Baltimore County Scores Major Offshore Wind Deal

OCEAN CITY — The developer of the smaller of two offshore wind energy farms announced a landmark agreement to develop a vast staging area in Baltimore County, ensuring at least the significant investment and jobs-creator will be in Maryland.

In 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved two offshore wind energy projects off the coast of Ocean City, the smaller of which is the Skipjack project presented by then-developer Deepwater Wind. The Skipjack project includes 15 wind energy turbines about 20 miles off the coast of Ocean City.

Last October, Deepwater Wind was acquired by the Danish-based company Orsted, a global leader in wind energy. On Tuesday, Orsted officials announced an agreement to develop Maryland’s first offshore wind energy staging area at Tradepoint Atlantic, a 3,300-acre waterfront site in Sparrows Point in Baltimore County formerly a major Bethlehem Steel plant. The agreement announced on Tuesday will set aside 50 acres, including five acres adjacent to the site’s deepwater berth and access to the Chesapeake Bay, for Orsted’s staging area for its wind energy farm.

Part of the PSC’s approval for the two wind energy farms off the resort coast included provisions guaranteeing a certain amount of investment locally and in Maryland including the creation of jobs and Orsted’s agreement to develop its staging area at the Tradepoint site appears to accomplish those goals. Orsted’s $13.2 million investment in the Tradepoint Atlantic site is expected to create 913 jobs during the development and another 484 jobs during operations.

In simplest terms, the Tradepoint site will allow Orsted to transport components for the large wind turbines to the Sparrows Point site for assembly. Then, the turbines and other components will be loaded on vessels and transported to the Skipjack wind farm offshore. Improvements to the staging area at Tradepoint Atlantic include strengthening the ground-bearing capacity at the port to allow heavy-lift cranes and specialized transporters to move wind turbine components, some weighing as much as 2,000 tons, from ships onto the site.

Orsted’s Skipjack project is the smaller of the two approved by the PSC in 2017 and its designated wind energy area (WEA) is sited slightly farther north and east of Ocean City. The other larger approved project being developed by US Wind will site its turbines closer to the resort coast at around 17 miles and is more directly in front of Ocean City.

Orsted officials this week praised the partnership with Tradepoint Atlantic and the creation of the wind farm staging area in Baltimore County as a milestone for its Maryland project off the Ocean City coast.

“Together with Tradepoint Atlantic, we are making history by developing the first offshore wind staging center in Maryland,” said Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind Chief Operating Officer Claus Moller. “This new center will create good-paying jobs, leverage Tradepoint Atlantic’s outstanding location and logistical assets and put Maryland on the map as a global offshore wind industry hub. We are proud to work with Tradepoint Atlantic to make clean energy the newest chapter in the storied history of the Sparrows Point site was we pursue our vision of a world that runs entirely on green energy.”

Tradepoint Atlantic officials were equally effusive in their praise of the partnership.

“Today’s announcement is tremendously exciting and important, not only for the further development of Tradepoint Atlantic and Orsted’s Skipjack project, but for the entire clean and renewable energy sector,” said Tradepoint Atlantic Chief Commercial Officer Kerry Doyle. “This represents the first step of many to come in growing the offshore wind industry and Tradepoint Atlantic plans to play a major role in making sure it thrives here in Maryland. Ultimately, because of this new partnership, Tradepoint Atlantic is positioned to become the supply chain leader up and down the east coast for offshore wind energy, supporting and creating thousands of jobs in the process.”

Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford said the partnership meets the goal of keeping the investment and jobs-creation in Maryland while repurposing the Sparrows Point site so instrumental in the state’s economic history.

“Never before have we celebrated the start of an offshore wind staging center in Maryland and I can’t think of a site more perfectly suited to the task than this one,” said Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford. “This partnership is the latest exciting chapter in the remarkable transformation of the Sparrows Point site. Governor Hogan and I have been deeply committed to working with Tradepoint Atlantic to ensure this site is just as economically dominant in the 21st century as it was in the 20th.

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.