Wind Farm Hearing Set For Saturday

OCEAN CITY — On the eve of the highly-anticipated public hearing on the increased height of the proposed offshore wind turbines off the resort coast, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) this week approved the town’s petition to intervene and also changed the hearing’s site within the convention center to accommodate the expected crowd.

Late last year, the PSC released an order opining the proposed changes in the wind turbine heights for two approved offshore wind energy projects off the Ocean City coast warranted further review and scheduled a public hearing for this Saturday at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center. In the weeks since, the town filed a petition to intervene for the purpose of guaranteeing it would be an official party of record during the proceedings.

Last Friday, the PSC made two announcements in advance of Saturday’s scheduled public hearing. The PSC granted the town’s petition to intervene as requested. The state agency on the same day announced the public hearing will be moved to the much-larger Bayfront Ballroom in the convention center to accommodate the expected crowd.

The public hearing was originally scheduled for Rooms 215-217 in the convention center. However, as interest has piqued in the weeks leading up to the hearing, it has now been moved to the larger bayfront ballroom. In terms of the town’s petition, the PSC granted the petition, citing little or no opposition to the request.

“After considering the request, and the fact that no party has filed on objection to it, the commission grants the petition to intervene for Ocean City,” the PSC’s order reads.

In 2017, the PSC approved two offshore wind energy projects off the coast of Ocean City, or technically, the award of Offshore Renewable Energy Credits (ORECs) to the two companies seeking to develop wind farms off the coast of the resort including the US Wind project and the Skipjack project.

However, with advancements in technology, the height of the proposed turbines has increased exponentially since the original PSC approval, prompting a request to reopen the original approval proceedings. For example, Orsted’s Skipjack project has now committed to using 12-megawatt wind turbines described as the “world’s largest offshore wind turbine.”

For its part, US Wind has not finalized a decision on the turbines proposed for its project, although the company has stated publicly and in written correspondence to the PSC it is considering turbines considerably larger than the four-megawatt units first proposed.

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.