If not Fenwick Island State Park, then where?

PJM Interconnection provides clues to future home of Skipjack connection site
July 24, 2020

Story Location:
Cedar Neck substation
Bethany Beach, DE 19930
United States

A couple of weeks ago, after months of public scrutiny, Ørsted announced it was no longer going to pursue the construction of Skipjack Wind Farm’s acre-sized interconnection facility within Fenwick Island State Park.

At the time, and now, the Danish company said an announcement on an alternative interconnection site would be coming in the near future. In an email July 15, Brady Walker, Ørsted's Mid-Atlantic market manager, said no decisions have been made on an alternative interconnection location, but he said one will be announced in the future for Skipjack, a 120-megawatt-producing wind farm due east of Delaware’s beaches.

Ørsted may not want to get into specifics, but an examination of applications submitted to PJM Interconnection provides clues as to where Skipjack’s future facility could be.

PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization that coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states, including Delaware. To connect the wind farm’s generated power to the electrical grid, power companies have to undergo a feasibility study by PJM.

As of July 20, Ørsted has two pending applications with PJM to connect to substations owned by Delmarva Power & Light Company. Both applications are in the facilities study stage. There are five phases in the application process – feasibility study, system-impact study, facilities study, interconnection service agreement, and interconnection construction service agreement. 

One site under application, Cedar Neck substation, is located off Route 1, at the end of a dirt road about quarter-mile north of Fred Hudson Road. This substation is surrounded on all sides by Delaware Seashore State Park’s Fresh Pond area. This application was submitted in September 2018.

The second location, Bethany substation, is just south of Bethany Beach off Kent Avenue. There are undeveloped tracts near the Bethany substation, but they’re a mix of privately owned land, South Bethany-owned land and state-owned land. This application was submitted in March 2019.

In an email July 13, Timothy Stokes, Delmarva Power spokesperson, said as a transmission owner with PJM, Delmarva Power will be involved in any proposed projects. He said all developers seeking to interconnect generation into the Delmarva Power transmission system must go through the PJM Interconnection process.

First, said Stokes, both companies would be required to complete an application with PJM to have the impact of their proposed generation studied.

“In general, we will work with offshore wind developers, the state and other stakeholders to support the transmission and delivery of this new clean energy source and help Delaware become a leader in offshore wind,” said Stokes.

Coinciding with Ørsted’s proposal for Fenwick Island State Park was a submission to PJM to connect to the grid at Delmarva Power’s Bethany-138th Street substation in Ocean City, Md., about two miles south of the state park. Ørsted withdrew that request the same day it announced it was no longer pursuing Fenwick Island State Park.

Walker said Ørsted established multiple interconnection positions in the PJM queue as a matter of due diligence, and Bethany and Cedar Neck are two of its positions for the Skipjack Wind Farm.

Stokes said PJM is expected to publish the facilities studies for both Ørsted applications by April 30, 2021.

There’s also a third possible connection location – the Indian River substation at the head of the Indian River Bay, east of Millsboro, within the Indian River power plant complex. Maryland’s other proposed wind farm, U.S. Wind, is connecting onto the grid through this substation. This project calls for 32 turbines, 17 miles due east of Ocean City. The expectation is that U.S. Wind will produce roughly 270 megawatts of power, which according to U.S. Wind is enough power for approximately 76,000 homes.

According to the PJM website, U.S. Wind has already completed the final phase of the application process – construction service agreement – to connect to the grid at the Indian River substation about 35 miles northwest of its wind farm site.

There are three pending applications to PJM, two of which are for Indian River, but the documents are not available to see who submitted them. The third pending application is for a second substation at Cedar Neck. All three are in the feasibility study phase and have a submission date of March 23.

In an email after the print deadline, Henry Fawell said, at this time, Ørsted will defer additional comment on interconnection until it announces its alternative location in the coming weeks.

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