Ørsted this week announced a nearly $20 million plan to build the first offshore wind operations base in Maryland to service its planned 120-megawatt Skipjack Wind offshore array.
The site on the seaside resort’s bayside would make what Ørsted calls “a strategic hub for offshore wind jobs and economic activity” – in the heart of what has been a center of political opposition to offshore wind.
Ørsted and wind developers US Wind are vying in a second round of offshore wind power proposals sought by state utilities officials, with plans to bring component fabrication and manufacturing to revive waterfront industrial sites including the Sparrows Point steel complex and Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre logistics site near Baltimore that the companies say could be used to supply their projects and a dozen others proposed by developers off the U.S. East Coast.
Ørsted’s second phase Skipjack 2 would generate 760 MW. US Wind, holding an 80,000-acre federal lease off the Delmarva peninsula, plans a first phase of 22 turbines and pitching a second phase to total 1,500 MW. Both companies promise to fulfill Maryland’s state policy of drawing new jobs and investment with the wind industry.
The Ocean City base will create up to 110 temporary and permanent jobs in town, basing up to three crew transfer vessels (CTVs) that will carry technicians out to the Skipjack turbines, Ørsted says. The Harbor Road location will include a warehouse and the company’s local offices for maintenance technicians, engineers, and operations personnel.
At Tradepoint Atlantic the company says it will invest over $140 million to build Maryland’s first array cable factory, in a partnership with Hellenic Cables. That project could employ 300 people.
Meanwhile, US Wind CEO Jeff Grybowski has been talking up his company’s plans to use the Sparrows Point manufacturing facility near Baltimore, once the site of Bethlehem Steel’s biggest plant. That project would fabricate turbine tower components for use by any U.S. wind developers.
Ocean City municipal and business leaders vigorously fought offshore wind plans, insisting array locations be moved farther from shore because they will change seaside views from the resort and affect local fisheries.
Despite resistance from seaside tourism interests and the fishing industry, wind power has aligned support from Maryland politicians and other Eastern Shore business advocates.
“Wind energy promises cost-effective clean energy and jobs right here at home,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, in a joint statement with Ørsted. “I’m excited to see how this project moves forward, working closely with Ocean City and the local community. This new facility will help solidify Maryland as a national leader in creating the clean energy economy that will strengthen national security by lessening our dependence on foreign oil and protect our environment for generations to come.”
“Ørsted’s investment is great news for the Lower Shore workforce and a great example of why the Greater Salisbury Committee has supported offshore wind for six years,” said Mike Dunn, president and CEO of the non-profit Greater Salisbury Committee. “Offshore wind is creating a tremendous job pipeline for Lower Shore workers and small businesses. Diversifying our workforce with good paying jobs that service Skipjack Wind is huge for our region and our workers.”