Carney launches effort to study offshore wind energy

John Carney

DOVER — Gov. John Carney signed an executive order Monday creating a working group to study offshore wind technology.

The executive order, the 13th issued by the governor, states it is designed to examine “how Delaware can participate in developing offshore wind, identify ways to leverage the related economic opportunities and make specific recommendations for engaging in the development of offshore wind for Delaware.”

Officials are hopeful an expansion of wind technology will not only create jobs but also provide cleaner energy, playing a role in combating climate change.

“It’s critically important that we take steps, and as there’s been some falling back on leadership at the federal level, Gov. Carney has joined governors and mayors throughout the country to say we’re still going to do our part here in Delaware,” Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Shawn Garvin said.

“This working group and our ability to look at both the economic benefits of investments in wind but also the environmental benefits of wind is critically important.”

Delaware is the lowest-lying state in the country, and 11 percent of its 1,949 square miles will be underwater by 2100 unless steps are taken to counteract climate change, according to officials.

University of Delaware professor Jeremy Firestone said offshore wind can provide clean, renewable energy. Technology has advanced greatly since 2007, lowering the price of wind-generated power, although it is still more expensive than conventional power sources, he said.

There is “a hunger in Delaware for an energy transformation,” he said.

About a decade ago, Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power agreed to build the first offshore wind farm in the United States. Windmills would have been built about 13 miles off the Rehoboth Beach coast, but the plan ended up being delayed and ultimately falling through years later.

Maryland approved two wind farms earlier this year. Gov. Carney said Delaware should “be in the conversation about where those facilities be located.”
He was unsure how many jobs a wind farm could create.

Gov. Carney last week sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke protesting a federal executive order reviewing limitations on offshore drilling.

“The state of Delaware stands firm in its commitment to alternative energy development, and has prioritized working with neighboring states to develop a comprehensive strategy that will maximize the environmental and economic development benefits of adopting renewable energy,” he wrote in part.

The group created Monday will work with the Division of Energy and Climate and will include lawmakers, the head of the Public Service Commission, the secretary of state, the secretary of natural resources and environmental control, the public advocate, a representative of the governor’s office, individuals from the energy field and other people with knowledge of the subject.

It is scheduled to send a report to Gov. Carney by Dec. 15.

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