It’s been nearly four years since the June 2017 announcement of Skipjack Wind Farm, a 120-megawatt producing wind farm due east of Delaware’s beaches. The whole time, the anticipated construction completion date has been late 2022.
The completion date has now changed. According to representatives from Ørsted, the Danish company building the wind farm, the anticipated completion date is now late 2023.
In a first quarter review with investors April 29, Henrik Poulsen, Ørsted president and CEO, said the company’s offshore projects in the United States are moving forward, but slower than projected. He said the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is taking longer to analyze the impacts from the build-out of U.S. offshore wind projects, and now, COVID-19 has affected the timeline.
Poulsen said it was no longer realistic to receive a Notice of Intent from BOEM in time for a commissioning date in late 2022. Ørsted now expects to commission the wind farm about one year later.
“The notice of intent is the first important milestone toward receiving the final permit, the so-called construction and operations plan approval,” said Poulsen.
More immediately, COVID-19 forced the postponement of at least one public engagement event by Ørsted.
In an email April 24, Henry Fawell, company spokesperson, said a supplier day in March at Tradepoint Atlantic in Maryland was postponed, but the company anticipates rescheduling at a later time. Preliminary planning for other events in the Delmarva region have been put on hold in light of the pandemic, he said.
It’s unclear how, or if, the construction delay will affect Ørsted’s proposal for a transmission connection facility in Fenwick Island State Park.
In exchange for allowing a facility at the state park where the wind farm would connect to the power grid, the company has offered Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control approximately $18 million in improvements to the park. Improvements include a two-story parking structure, a Route 1 pedestrian crossover connecting the bay and the ocean, an outdoor amphitheater, housing for lifeguards, a new park bathhouse, a new building for the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce and an overall improvement in roadway infrastructure.
According to drawings prepared by Ørsted, the connection facility would be taller than the tree line and approximately one acre in size. DNREC took public comment on the proposal, including a public hearing at Indian River High School, for months. The official comment period closed in January.
In an email May 1, state parks spokesperson Shauna McVey said, “The company’s statement spoke only to the completion date of the project. We do not have a timeline for when the FAQ responses will be posted online.”
Fawell said Ørsted is still pursuing the park proposal.
“Ørsted and the Skipjack team remain fully committed to working with DNREC with the goal of reaching an agreement that all Delawareans can be proud of,” he said.