Two off­shore wind projects to be con­sid­ered

Devel­op­ers sub­mit their pro­pos­als to state reg­u­la­tors

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND - By Sarah Gantz sarah.gantz@balt­sun.com

Two plans for wind projects off Mary­land’s coast are headed to the state Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion for con­sid­er­a­tion.

The com­mis­sion said it had opened its for­mal re­view of pro­pos­als from US Wind Inc., a sub­sidiary of Ital­ian en­ergy and con­struc­tion gi­ant Toto Hold­ings SpA, and Skip­jack Off­shore Wind LLC, a sub­sidiary of Deep­wa­ter Wind Hold­ings LLC.

Ap­proval from the com­mis­sion is nec­es­sary for ei­ther project to se­cure off­shore re­new­able en­ergy cred­its, one of sev­eral fi­nan­cial in­cen­tives es­tab­lished un­der Mary­land’s Off­shore Wind En­ergy Act of 2013 to en­cour­age wind power projects. The cred­its, a sub­sidy of up to $1.9 bil­lion, would be paid by con­sumers, adding up to $1.50 a month to the av­er­age res­i­den­tial cus­tomer’s elec­tric bill.

To se­cure the cred­its, ap­pli­cants must show that the eco­nomic, en­vi­ron­men­tal and pub­lic health ben­e­fits of their projects out­weigh the sub­sidy. The com­mis­sion is work­ing with in­de­pen­dent con­sul­tant Le­vi­tan and As­so­ciates Inc. to evaluate the pro­pos­als.

US Wind, which has of­fices in Bal­ti­more, plans to build a 750-megawatt wind project off the coast of Ocean City. The project calls for 187 tur­bines to be built across 80,000 acres in three stages. The first stage, cre­at­ing 250 megawatts of wind power, could be com­plete by 2020. The en­tire project would be com­pleted by 2022.

The project would pro­vide enough en­ergy to power 500,000 homes.

The wind farm’s con­struc­tion is ex­pected to cre­ate hun­dreds of jobs and could help re­vive steel fab­ri­ca­tion and weld­ing in Mary­land, said Paul Rich, di­rec­tor of project de­vel­op­ment for US Wind.

“We want to hire and in­vest and re­ally bring this in­dus­try to Mary­land,” Rich said.

Deep­wa­ter’s pro­posal calls for the 120megawatt Skip­jack Wind Farm to be built in the At­lantic Ocean more than 17 nau­ti­cal miles north­east of Ocean City. With con­struc­tion be­gin­ning in 2020, the project could be op­er­a­tional by 2022.

“We’re bringing down the cost of Amer­i­can off­shore wind en­ergy in a big way,” Deep­wa­ter Wind CEO Jeffrey Gry­bowski said in a state­ment. “Ratepay­ers in Mary­land will ben­e­fit from en­ergy that is both clean and af­ford­able. The Skip­jack Wind Farm is the right clean en­ergy so­lu­tion for Mary­land, and we’re ready to get to work.”

Deep­wa­ter, based in Prov­i­dence, R.I., is be­hind the five-tur­bine Block Is­land Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Is­land. It is the na­tion’s first and is ex­pected to be­gin op­er­at­ing this win­ter. The com­pany also is plan­ning wind projects off Mas­sachusetts, New York and New Jer­sey.

Mary­land’s off­shore wind pro­gram is in­tended to help meet a goal to pro­duce 20 per­cent of the state’s power from re­new­able sources by 2022.

The state’s ef­forts are in line with a fed­eral push for re­new­able en­ergy. Over sev­eral years, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has leased hun­dreds of thou­sands of acres off the East Coast to be de­vel­oped for re­new­able en­ergy, in­clud­ing two leases, to­tal­ing 80,000 acres, off the coast of Ocean City.

With a bid of $8.7 mil­lion, US Wind in 2014 won the auc­tion for both leases.

Deep­wa­ter said in a state­ment that it had also se­cured a fed­eral lease, sub­ject to reg­u­la­tory ap­proval, but its lo­ca­tion was not im­me­di­ately clear. Deep­wa­ter could not be reached for com­ment Wed­nes­day.

The com­mis­sion is ex­pected to de­cide on the pro­pos­als by May17.

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