Citing a large portion of undisturbed wetlands, Ørsted is backing out of a proposal that would construct the Skipjack Wind Farm’s interconnection facility within Fenwick Island State Park.
In a press release July 10, Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic market manager for Ørsted, said constructing the interconnection facility on a site with such an extensive presence of undisturbed wetlands runs contrary to the company’s deeply held commitment to building its business sustainably.
“Ørsted is committed to constructing the wind farm and associated infrastructure in a way that seeks to mitigate potential adverse impacts on local ecosystems and communities,” said Walker in the press release.
In fall 2019, Danish company Ørsted introduced a proposal to connect Skipjack Wind Farm, a 120-megawatt-producing wind farm due east of Delaware’s beaches, to the power grid by building a facility on the Little Assawoman Bay side of Fenwick Island State Park. In return, Ørsted proposed roughly $18 million worth of improvements to the state park.
Soon after the proposal was announced, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control opened a public comment window on the project that lasted until January of this year.
DNREC released those results July 1, saying it received 2,692 survey submissions on the proposed park improvements. According to survey results, 44 percent said they would like DNREC to renovate the existing parking area and/or create additional parking facilities; 32 percent want the bathhouse and restroom facilities to be renovated and expanded; 13 percent would like additional food concessionaires; and 12 percent felt the proposed improvements would improve traffic flow and parking at Fenwick Island State Park.
In an email July 10, DNREC spokesperson Michael Globetti said there has been an understanding since the proposal was first made that significant negative impact to the environment, including wetlands, would not be acceptable to DNREC or to Ørsted. As the company further researched and planned the possible facility within the park, it responsibly realized that the likely wetland impact would not work, he said.
In the press release from Ørsted, Walker said Ørsted plans to make an announcement on an alternative interconnection site in the near future.
Any new proposal would undergo a similar level of public input, said Globetti.
“Any interconnection along the Delaware coast, whether on state or private land, would be subject to environmental and regulatory permitting processes by DNREC and other agencies, with considerable public input,” said Globetti, adding the information gathered for Fenwick Island State Park will help guide future park improvement decisions using user fees and taxpayers' dollars.
Earlier this year, Ørsted announced the anticipated completion date of Skipjack Wind Farm had been pushed back a year to late 2023.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with comments from DNREC spokesperson Michael Globetti.