Del., US Wind To Negotiate Over Park Lease, Benefits

OCEAN CITY – US Wind and the state of Delaware will begin negotiating a lease agreement that could bring financial incentives to residents and ratepayers.

Last week, Delaware Gov. John Carney announced the start of formal negotiations between the state and US Wind to bring an underground cable landing to 3Rs Beach in Delaware Seashore State Park in exchange for energy credits that will reduce electricity costs and funding that will support workforce and environmental projects. A term sheet signed last Tuesday contemplates the commencement of negotiations over the lease to deliver power from the company’s offshore turbines to the regional electrical grid through the state park.

“This agreement means Delaware will become an active player in the growing offshore wind industry,” Carney said in a statement. “It aligns with other objectives, including our emission reduction targets and meeting the net-zero carbon goal set last year by House Bill 99. Transitioning to clean energy sources is essential to reducing manmade greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change, and these wind projects are part of that transition.”

In 2014, US Wind acquired an 80,000-acre federal lease area off the coast of Maryland. And by 2021, the state of Maryland had approved two of the company’s offshore wind projects – MarWin and Momentum Wind. As proposed, the projects are expected to generate thousands of megawatts in renewable energy and support more than 2,600 jobs annually throughout the development and construction phases.

However, those in opposition have shared their concerns about the impacts the offshore wind turbines would have on viewsheds, marine animals, fishing and navigation, among other things. In Ocean City, officials continue to advocate for a “no-build” alternative, as the wind turbines would be placed roughly nine miles from the town’s coastline.

In a statement this week, City Manager Terry McGean also voiced his opposition to US Wind’s negotiations with the state of Delaware.

“Since 2013 the Maryland General Assembly and Maryland Public Service Commission have passed laws and executed agreements that gave US Wind hundreds of millions of dollars in offshore renewable energy credits (ORECs) to build an industrial scale wind farm right off the coast of Ocean City,” he said in a statement. “These ORECs require Maryland residents and businesses to pay inflated electric prices to support the US Wind project. Last week the President of US Wind (Jeff Grybowski) announced that his company would provide over $40 million dollars in community benefits and $78 million in renewable energy credits to the State of Delaware. Mr. Grybowski then went on to announce that his Maryland subsidized project would ‘lower electricity bills for the people of Delaware.’”

He continued, “The fact that Ocean City residents and businesses will have their ocean views and property values destroyed by US Wind and pay higher electric bills for the privilege, so that Delaware beaches can get cheaper electricity and grant money while their ocean views remain pristine is infuriating to me and should anger every Marylander.”

As proposed in the term sheet signed last week, US Wind would pay the state of Delaware $350,000 a year, with annual increases, to lease 3Rs Beach for its cable landing. The state reports the lease negotiation will be separate from the necessary environmental permits that US Wind will have to obtain for its cable routes, which will go through the established administrative process that includes public comment.

“The land lease with Delaware State Parks does not prejudge or guarantee favorable outcome of the environmental permits,” a news release reads.

Prior to finalizing the potential land lease, State Parks and US Wind will hold a public information session to share details of the work to be done at 3Rs Beach. When complete, US Wind’s plans show that the only visible evidence of the underground cable crossing would be a manhole in the parking lot.

The term sheet also includes plans to ensure Delaware residents and ratepayers benefit from US Wind’s projects. This includes 150,000 renewable energy credits each year, at an estimated value of $76 million over the life of the project, funding for dredging projects in Delaware’s coastal areas, funding for clean energy workforce development training and Delaware colleges and schools, and an environmental education scholarship fund. The term sheet would also establish a resiliency fund for climate change projects at state parks, replenish the 21st Century Fund that funds projects at state parks, and an agreement that US Wind will provide $40 million for community benefit projects over the span of 20 years.

“Offshore wind will help to lower electricity bills for the people of Delaware and will improve air quality across the state by reducing our reliance on burning fossil fuels,” said Grybowski. “We plan to deliver a massive amount of clean energy directly into the electric grid in Delaware and that direct link means a lot of benefits locally. We look forward to working with the people of Delaware as we progress these plans and we congratulate Governor Carney for carving out this unique opportunity for Delaware to be a major beneficiary of the growth of offshore wind energy in the region.”

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

Alternative Text

Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.