Ørsted Delays Offshore Wind Farm Project Completion Date

OCEAN CITY — One of two approved offshore wind energy projects planned off Ocean City has informed a state regulatory agency its target date for operation has now been moved to 2026.

In 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved two offshore wind energy projects off the coast of Ocean City, including Ørsted’s Skipjack project. Technically, the PSC awarded Offshore Renewable Energy Credits, or ORECs, to the two successful bidders, including the Skipjack project.

The PSC’s awarding of the ORECs came after the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) along with federal, state and local stakeholders, developed Maryland’s Wind Energy Area (WEA), a vast swath of open ocean consisting of roughly 80,000 acres. The Skipjack project would be sited in the northern section of Maryland’s WEA and the company has stated the closest it would site its first line of turbines, the 12-megawatt GE Halidade, called the largest commercially available in the world, was 19.5 miles from the coast.

The Skipjack project was originally slated to have an estimated commercial operation date (COD) by the end of 2023. Last week, however, Ørsted’s legal counsel in a letter to PSC Executive Director Andrew Johnston advised last week Ørsted was now projecting a commercial operation date as long as five years out.

“By letter dated April 21, 2020, Skipjack informed the Maryland Public Service Commission of a revision to its estimated commercial operation date (COD) such that Skipjack was targeting an estimated COD prior to the end of 2023,” the letter reads. “Skipjack is now writing to revise its estimated COD and currently targeting an estimated COD for the project prior to the end of the second quarter of 2026.”

Ørsted did not give any indication for the roughly two-year pushback in the commercial operation date, but said in a statement it remains committed to the project off the coast of the resort.

“Ørsted is fully committed to building, owning and operating the project and to delivering clean, reliable offshore wind energy to the Delmarva region,” the statement reads. “Skipjack represents a long-term partnership with the state of Maryland and we are proud to be a part of the state’s effort to achieve its ambitious renewable energy goals.”

Ørsted said Maryland has the potential to be a leader in the budding offshore wind energy industry in the U.S.

“Because of its strong infrastructure assets and strategic location, Maryland is well-positioned to play a key role in the development of this new American industry,” the statement reads. “Ørsted has made, and will continue to make, significant investments in the state and region to support offshore wind development and operation for many years to come.”

Ørsted said it takes the commitment to its Maryland project seriously and the delay should not be construed in another fashion.

“The commitments we make to states and local communities are decades long and it is a responsibility the company takes seriously,” the statement reads. “We will continue to work with communities and stakeholder groups in the region as we progress the development of the Skipjack wind farm. Ørsted is committed to bringing the benefits of offshore wind to the Delmarva region and we look forward to our continued partnership with our stakeholders. We wish to thank the states of Maryland and Delaware and our many partners at the local, state and federal level for their continued engagement and look forward to making several exciting announcements in the weeks to come.”

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.