Wind farms’ approval good news for Wicomico

Salisbury and Wicomico County are anticipating some solid benefit from financial windfalls that could come with last week’s approval of two wind farm projects off Ocean City.

The two projects that — if eventually built — would see construction of two of the nation’s largest offshore wind farms some 12 to 17 miles off Ocean City. Each turbine operated by US Wind will have thousands of moving parts and require constant repairs and maintenance, which is where Salisbury manufacturing businesses would benefit.

Businesses ranging from Chesapeake Shipbuilding to Toroid Corp. could benefit. Statewide, there are more than 800 businesses with the potential to provide support for the offshore wind industry.

In Baltimore, wind developers will invest millions of dollars in port infrastructure and steel fabrication, but numerous businesses will be tapped for other needs.

If Some of Salisbury’s manufacturing businesses can gain offshore wind experience, they will be in a strong market position as other offshore wind projects are approved around the country.

In its decision, the Maryland Public Service Commission recognized offshore wind’s tremendous economic development potential to the state.

“(Maryland) is positioned to become a national leader in the burgeoning offshore wind industry by securing tangible commitments to develop a robust supply chain in Maryland utilizing small businesses and minority business enterprises.”

US Wind has been working toward construction of its Maryland project since it first acquired the lease for the Maryland Wind Energy Area off the coast of Ocean City. The company undertook a marine survey of the ocean floor in 2016 and recently received the final permit to build a meteorological tower station offshore.

The state PSC’s decision awarded 913,845 offshore wind renewable energy credits to US Wind. This corresponds with the company’s request to support a 248 Megawatt project off the coast of Ocean City. Ultimately, US Wind plans to construct up to 187 turbines and produce power for more than 500,000 homes.

The farms — which would still need federal approval — are expected to generate more than $1.8 billion of in-state spending as well as 9,700 new direct and indirect jobs, according to a Public Service Commission.

US Wind will receive incentives for 62 initial turbines, which would cost more than $1 billion.

The PSC attached multiple conditions to its approval, including requirements that the developers create a minimum of 4,977 direct jobs during the development, construction and operating phases of the projects.

Greg Bassett is editor and general manager of Salisbury Independent. Reach him at gbassett@newszap.com

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