Despite public concerns over a ruined viewshed, the Maryland Public Service Commission has approved use of the world’s largest turbines for Skipjack Wind Farm.
In an Aug. 20 order, the commission said Skipjack, a 120-megawatt wind farm, could use the General Electric Haliade-X, a 12-megawatt turbine that has a height of more than 850 feet when a blade is straight up in the air. The commission held a public hearing in Ocean City on the subject in January.
“Skipjack’s selection of the Haliade-X will reduce the number of wind turbines needed for the project from 15 to 12 or fewer turbines,” said the commission in its order. “No hearing evidence indicates that the change in turbine selection will create additional adverse impacts to navigational safety, marine life, or the broader environment.”
Skipjack would be due east of Delaware in a federal lease area that stretches along almost all of the state’s ocean coastline. The southern portion of the lease area is 17 miles from shore, while the northern portion is about 13 miles from the shoreline.
Brady Walker, Ørsted’s Mid-Atlantic market manager, said the company is pleased the public service commission approved the project’s commitment to use the commercially available turbine technology.
“The project will continue to engage with all stakeholders on creating a project that all Marylanders can be proud of,” said Walker in a prepared statement Aug. 20. “We look forward to continuing our work in delivering clean and reliable energy to over 35,000 homes in the Delmarva region.”
As part of the approval, Skipjack is ordered to re-engage with stakeholders and provide a status report to the commission regarding that engagement every six months until ordered to discontinue. The commissioner said a status report is to be filed in writing and contain specific information regarding dates and times of meetings, persons met with, topics discussed and notice given for stakeholder engagements.
Turbine approval is the third piece of recent Skipjack news.
In April, Ørsted announced the anticipated construction completion date had been moved from late 2022 to late 2023.
In July, Ørsted announced it was no longer interested in building the project’s interconnection facility in Fenwick Island State Park. The facility is needed to connect the power generated by the turbines to the power grid.
At the time, Walker said Ørsted planned to make an announcement on an alternative interconnection site in the near future.
In an email Aug. 21, Henry Falwell, Ørsted spokesperson, said an alternative site had not yet been selected.