Like everyone else, Ørsted, the Danish company looking to build the proposed Skipjack Wind Farm off Delaware’s coast, is still waiting to hear if the state has approved a transmission connection in Fenwick Island State Park.
In the meantime, and in preparation of making landfall anywhere, Ørsted is moving forward with lining up contractors and subcontractors for the construction of the onshore substation. With that in mind, Ørsted hosted its first Delmarva supplier day Feb. 11 in Bethany Beach.
Matt Drew, Ørsted lead sourcing and onshore facilities manager, was on hand to lead the discussion. He said there are six stages of development for the Skipjack project – turbine construction, foundation work, laying of cables connecting the turbines, installation vessels, the laying of cable connecting the wind farm to shore, and the onshore substation.
The purpose of the gathering in Bethany was specifically for the onshore substation. Joining Ørsted representatives were companies described by Ørsted as Tier 1 contractors. Drew said Ørsted has narrowed the field of substation builders to four companies – Burns & McDonnell, General Electric, Linxon and Quanta Services. Depending on the contractor, he said, they could hire from 15 to 30 subcontractors.
These companies are all doing large, important projects all over the country, said Drew. There’s a need for local contractors to help with site work, surveying, steel fabrication and other areas of expertise, he said.
Ankit Joshi is head of sales and marketing for Linxon, which specializes in onshore substations. It’s the thing Linxon does, day in and day out, he said.
There were roughly 90 of the local contractors on hand. Joshi said it was a great turnout.
“Linxon, and these larger companies, don’t have the awareness of the local resources,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity to do some speed dating with locals. It’s been very positive.”
The local subcontractors were also happy to participate in the supplier day.
Tracey Shoemaker of Wilmington-based Trinity Subsurface said she thought the proposed wind farm and its necessary construction components are a great opportunity for the local economy. She said she was at the event because there are always unknowns when digging underground.
“It’s nice to get to meet some of the big players in the industry,” she said.
Todd Allen was at the event representing Ironworkers Local 5. He said his union has 2,000 members who do steel construction and fabrication.
“We have the ability to do everything from the bottom to the tippy-top,” said Allen, pointing to the turbine.
Drew, a native of Sussex County, said it was disappointing Delaware chose not to participate in awarding offshore wind power leases, but the state is uniquely situated along the Atlantic Coast. It lies in the center of wind farms to the north and the south, so even if state officials haven’t embraced the technology, businesses in Delaware can still benefit.
The Port of Wilmington is already taking ships with turbine blades on them for onshore wind farms, Drew said.
Drew said Ørsted plans on officially opening the bid for the four Tier 1 contractors in the next 30 days, with the awarding of the contract in the fall. He said there will be additional supplier days and events for the other parts of construction as permits are approved.
“Today is just the beginning,” he said.
Drew said Ørsted is optimistic the state will approve the connection in Fenwick Island State Park.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” he said. “We hope it’s supported.”