Maryland moves ahead on two offshore wind projects

Written by Nick Blenkey
US Wind plans windfarm offshore Maryland

Image: Adobe Stock

Maryland’s offshore wind portfolio is poised to grow substantially with a December 17 decision by the Maryland Public Service Commission to award offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs) to two developers that have proposed more than 1600 megawatts of energy to be built off the coast of Maryland.

The decision in the state’s second round of offshore wind solicitations will support US Wind Inc. and Skipjack Offshore Energy LLC in their plans to build separate projects that together will yield nearly $1 billion in additional in-state spending.

The new proposed projects are in addition to the 368 MW of offshore wind already being developed by both companies off Maryland’s shore and whose ORECs were approved by the Commission in 2017.

In the Round 2 application period that closed in June of this year, US Wind submitted three bids, and Skipjack submitted two bids. The proposals were evaluated on a number of criteria, including impacts to customer electric bills, Maryland’s health, environmental and climate interests and economic development benefits to the state.

US Wind is majority-owned by Renexia SpA, a leader in renewable energy development in Italy and a subsidiary of Toto Holding SpA. Skipjack is an Ørsted project.

ROUND 2

The Round 2 projects are both expected to be operational before the end of 2026, but are also subject to review by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

In its decision, the Commission attached numerous conditions to the approval, including obligating the companies to use port facilities at Tradepoint Atlantic in the Baltimore area, and in Ocean City, for marshaling, operations and maintenance activities.

US Wind must hold to its commitment to develop a monopile construction facility at Sparrows Point (Sparrows Point Steel). Skipjack will need to fulfill its plan to build subsea cable and turbine tower manufacturing facilities in Maryland, and invest in upgrades to an Eastern Shore company that assembles steel components for wind turbine foundations.

Skipjack plans to site its turbines 20 miles off the Maryland coast; US Wind notes its closest turbines would be 15 miles off the coast.

The Commission noted that the approval of ORECs for these projects will not leave any room for additional projects and has closed the anticipated next two application periods (year 2 and year 3) in Round 2.

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