Rehoboth Beach officials have been approached by Ocean City, Md. Mayor Rick Meehan about taking an official position on the proposed wind farms slated to be built in federal waters due east of Rehoboth Beach.
Rehoboth Beach Commissioner Edward Chrzanowski brought up Meehan’s request during a Dec. 3 environmental committee meeting. Meehan approached Mayor Stan Mills and it was passed along to the committee for initial discussion, he said.
There are two offshore wind energy projects proposed to be built in the Atlantic Ocean near or off the coast of Delaware – the 120-megawatt Skipjack Wind 1 and the 270-megawatt US Wind. Skipjack, being pursued by the Danish company Ørsted, would be roughly 20 miles from the beach in an area stretching from Bethany Beach to Rehoboth Beach. Baltimore-based US Wind’s lease area is roughly 15 miles due east of Ocean City and reaches south.
Meehan has been on the record for years against the proposed location of turbines for the US Wind project. He has said he would like the turbines used for the wind farm – which are expected to be General Electric’s 12-megawatt, 850-foot-tall Haliade-X – moved farther east so they aren’t visible from shore. The unobstructed view is one of the few things that remains undeveloped in Ocean City, and that view would be changed forever, said Meehan during a public meeting in November 2019.
Chrzanowski said Meehan had offered to make a presentation to the committee, and committee members agreed it would be a good idea. However, said member Heather Metz, the city should do a lot of research before taking a position.
Chrzanowski ended the brief discussion by agreeing to see if Meehan would be available to make his presentation in January. Meehan could not be reached for comment.
Ørsted to build offshore wind operations, maintenance facility in West Ocean City
Ørsted announced in October it will build Maryland’s first emissions-free offshore wind operations and maintenance facility in west Ocean City. The nearly $20 million facility will service Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind program. According to a press release from Ørsted, the facility will create up to 110 temporary and permanent jobs in the community, and position the Ocean City area as a strategic hub for offshore wind jobs and economic activity.
Ørsted plans to utilize zero-emission crew transfer vessels at the facility as part of its commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship. The facility will serve as the permanent home for key members of the Skipjack Wind 1 Maryland team.
US Wind pledges $100,000 to Center for the Inland Bays
US Wind announced Dec. 2 it has pledged $100,000 to the Center for the Inland Bays, which will serve as a capstone contribution to the capital campaign behind the master plan for the James Farm Ecological Preserve. In recognition of this landmark partnership, the center will name the new facility the US Wind Environmental Education Center at the James Farm Ecological Preserve.
US Wind is developing an 80,000-acre federal lease area off the coast of Maryland.
Chris Bason, Delaware Center for the Inland Bays executive director, said the center is honored to add US Wind's name to the environmental education building being constructed as part of the master plan for the James Farm Ecological Preserve. The support will greatly improve the center's capacity to educate and engage youth and adults in the center’s efforts to restore the health of the Inland Bays and its watershed for decades to come, said Bason in a prepared statement.
Coast Guard looking to formalize shipping lanes
The future wind farms may be years from actually producing electricity, but the U.S. Coast Guard is looking to formalize already existing shipping lanes along Delaware’s coastline.
In May 2020, the Coast Guard published a notice announcing a Port Access Route Study for the seacoast of New Jersey, including offshore approaches to the Delaware Bay. The study was released in September.
Jerry Barnes, U.S. Coast Guard Fifth District’s Waterways Management Section chief, said the shipping safety fairways proposed in the study will formally identify current routes and ensure offshore development does not impede these routes in the future. The route along the Delaware coast mirrors the two-way route off Cape May known locally as tugboat alley and is approximately 4 miles off the coast and 0.75 miles wide, he said.
Barnes said the purpose of the study is to bring predictability and order for south- and north-bound towing vessels. Where established, the use of a two-way route is strongly recommended, but not mandatory, he said.
For more information on future shipping lanes, Barnes can be contacted by calling 757-398–6230 or emailing Jerry.R.Barnes@uscg.mil.