The coal-burning Indian River power plant will continue to operate for a few more years, reversing a previous plan to deactivate the facility.
Under a Reliability-Must-Run agreement with regional power grid operator PJM Interconnection, unit 4 will continue to operate until Delmarva Power can complete transmission upgrades, said Dave Schrader, senior manager, NRG Communications East.
The unit had been scheduled to retire in June 2022, but the RMR agreement extending its use began June 1, 2022, he said.
“PJM’s analysis has indicated that it could take Delmarva until December 2026 to complete transmission upgrades to eliminate the need for Indian River Unit 4 operation,” Schrader said.
The plant employs about 50 people.
Since 2020, there has been talk of connecting future offshore wind farms to the Indian River power plant, but there is nothing new to share on that for now, Schrader said.
There are two wind farms planned east of the Delaware coastline – US Wind’s MarWin and Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind Farm. US Wind is further along in the federal approval process. The company’s project, which is due east of Ocean City, Md., and about 25 miles from Rehoboth and Dewey, has the potential to deliver 1,100 MW of power to the grid with 76 turbines. As proposed, US Wind would connect to the grid by running its cable under the dune at 3R’s Beach north of Bethany Beach.
Nancy Sopko, US Wind spokesperson, said the company has been progressing through the two-year environmental analysis as planned since its construction and operations plan was deemed sufficient and complete in June 2022. Sopko said US Wind has been working with federal agencies and stakeholders to ensure its draft environmental impact statement is published this fall. Once that document is published, she said, that will kick off a second set of public hearings and written comments on plans.
“We are eagerly anticipating our final environmental impact statement to be issued by the end of 2024,” said Sopko.
Reporter Chris Flood contributed to this article.