Plans for wind farm interconnect at Fenwick Island State Park withdrawn

State Rep. Ron Gray speaks with residents attending the November 2019 public meeting on a proposed wind farm project off Delaware’s coast that included a grid interconnect facility at Fenwick Island State Park and improvements to the state park. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

FENWICK ISLAND – A Danish-based clean energy company has removed its pitch for a beach-based interconnect at Fenwick Island State Park for its Skipjack Wind Farm, citing concern for existing wetlands and ecosystems.

Following the completion of more thorough evaluations of the area proposed for the interconnect facility, Ørsted announced Friday it has determined that a large portion of the state park site is comprised of undisturbed wetlands.

Accordingly, Ørsted has notified Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control that it will no longer pursue plans for the interconnection facility at Fenwick Island State Park as initially proposed last year.

Joy Weber, Developmental Manager for Ørsted’s U.S. Skipjack Wind Farm project, addresses the audience at the November 2019 public meeting. Ørsted announced Friday it has withdrawn its proposal for the Fenwick Island interconnect, citing concern for undisturbed wetlands at the proposed site. (Delaware State News/Glenn Rolfe)

“Constructing an interconnection facility on a site with such an extensive presence of undisturbed wetlands runs contrary to Ørsted’s deeply held commitment to building our business sustainably,” said Brady Walker, Mid-Atlantic manager for Ørsted. “The Skipjack Wind Farm will deliver significant environmental and economic benefits to the Delmarva region, from good-paying jobs to renewable energy for tens of thousands of homes. However, Ørsted is committed to constructing the wind farm and associated infrastructure in a way that seeks to mitigate potential adverse impacts on local ecosystems and communities.

As presented, Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind Farm would provide upward of $18 million in amenities and upgrades at Fenwick Island State Park, the proposed location for the power interconnection facility for distribution to the PJM. The PJM is a regional transmission organization that coordinates movement of wholesale electricity throughout the Mid-Atlantic region as well as other neighboring states.

The proposed partnership with Ørsted and the Skipjack project would have enhanced Delaware State Park’s plans for upgrades of aging/obsolete infrastructure, one of the biggest limitations at Fenwick Island State Park, which was originally built in 1981, according to Delaware State Park Director Ray Bivens said.

Fenwick Island State Park attracted more than 230,000 visitors last year.

The Skipjack Wind Farm, a proposed 120 megawatt offshore wind farm, is projected to provide power for an estimated 35,000 homes.

Ørsted’s Skipjack proposal met both support and opposition. A November 2019 public session hosted by State Sen. Gerald Hocker and State Rep. Ron Gray on the proposal was attended by an estimated 650 people.

Ørsted plans to pursue other options.

“We are grateful to DNREC leadership and staff for their diligent work and prolonged collaboration on this proposal. We know they share our commitment to protecting Delaware’s pristine wetlands,” said Mr. Walker. “As Ørsted pursues an alternative interconnection site, we look forward to continued discussions with DNREC and other stakeholders in the region to complete a project Delmarva residents can be proud of. We hope to make an announcement on our alternative interconnection site in the near future.”