After observing Energy Awareness Month this October, I want to thank the many Lower Shore residents who have asked me questions this year about Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind Farm.
I’d like to answer a few of those questions here, especially those focused on the local economy and environment.
I have often been asked whether offshore wind can coexist with tourism. The answer is yes.
The University of Delaware recently released a study showing that 90 percent of local beachgoers say wind turbines 20 miles offshore would not detract from their beach experience.
Ten percent said turbines would improve their experience.
Additionally, a University of Rhode Island study found tourism thrived after our Block Island Wind Farm went into operation near Block Island, Rhode Island in 2017.
Clean energy opponents falsely claim that an N.C. State study shows projects like Skipjack could harm coastal tourism.
In reality, the study found that for projects further than 8 miles offshore – i.e. projects like Skipjack - “the visual impacts diminish substantially for many survey respondents and it is unlikely the turbines would negatively impact coastal vacation property markets.”
Another question I often hear is whether the Skipjack Wind Farm will really benefit the Lower Shore.
It has big economic and clean energy benefits. Ørsted is committed to investing $200 million and creating 1,400 jobs in Maryland and on the Shore.
We will open a facility in the Ocean City region to operate and maintain Skipjack’s wind turbines, creating good local jobs.
Salisbury-based ARCON has already created the Mid-Atlantic’s first offshore wind jobs training center focused on training welding and fabrication workers.
We held the Skipjack Wind Farm’s first supplier day earlier this year for local businesses to learn how to compete for offshore wind business.
As covid-19 restrictions ease, we will hold more in-person events for businesses and residents.
Ørsted believes firmly in limiting potential impacts that developing wind farms may have on nature. It’s one reason Corporate Knights named Ørsted the world’s most sustainable company this year.
By developing Skipjack nearly 20 miles offshore, we reduce proximity to navigating birds. We deploy observers and underwater hydrophones to monitor for marine mammals, follow agency guidance and pause construction if animals are nearby.
Horseshoe crabs will be protected by avoiding nearshore construction during spawning season.
Skipjack will undergo a federal review led by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, with input from U.S. Fish & Wildlife and other agencies.
We only secure permits to build Skipjack after questions about radar, public health and wildlife are satisfied. Learn more at boem.gov.
With just 12 turbines, the Skipjack Wind Farm will generate enough renewable energy to power 35,000 homes in the Delmarva region.
Our region has a chance to play a significant role in building a new American industry that will create jobs, provide new opportunities for local businesses, and help to fight the effects of climate change.
We are now, as we have always been, committed to working with local residents to realize this project and its benefits for the Lower Shore.
We welcome constructive feedback from Lower Shore residents and look forward to being a good neighbor. Learn more about the Skipjack Wind Farm at skipjackwindfarm.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mid-Atlantic Market Manager at Ørsted, developer of the Skipjack Wind Farm