Letter: Reader believes DNREC is selling out

Editor:

The Ørsted Skipjack Wind Farm deal at Fenwick Island State Park is financially shortsighted. For placement of 10 wind turbines off our coast, Delaware will get $18 million in questionable improvements to Fenwick Island State Park while most of the energy from the turbines is sold to Maryland.

Residents should object, as the initial payment is Maryland’s gain. I agree, but not because I’m against wind energy. Wind is the future, but the Skipjack deal proposed by Delaware’s Department of [Natural Resources] & Environmental Control (DNREC) is mired in the past.

Why isn’t the deal constructed as a 100-year lease of our state park land and a percentage of the energy profit from all future placements of wind turbines off our shore that continues to go to Maryland?

Currently, 10 turbines are proposed, but the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Energy Management (BOEM) has leased federal waters 17 miles off Delaware’s shore for 100 years to Ørsted. More turbines will be placed on the continental shelf.

As the price of placing more turbines decreases, Delaware’s financial skin in the game should increase, along with our monetary and energy benefits, going directly downstate not just to the park, but our towns and residents. We need some of that wind power.

A deal breaker might be a combination of sea-level rise, increasing frequency of 100-year storms and subsidence that could wipe out the proposed Ørsted transmission station at Fenwick long before the end of their 100-year lease. Delaware should guarantee a transmission station on an inland location, even if it means using a wooded area in the Little Assawoman Wildlife Refuge.

For a realistic look at what the future holds for lower Delaware, go to https://coast.noaa.gov, where one can enter an address to see the effects of storm surge at 4 feet above sea level. Coastal Highway is under water, as are nearly all the communities on the Little Assawoman Bay and Dirickson Creek, including Fenwick Island. Hurricane Sandy brought us 6 feet of storm surge. Sustained flooding will change the Delaware coastline, but Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind Farm will still be there providing energy to Maryland and maybe Delaware, but only if we get on board now.

Ørsted’s annual report reveals their operational profit was 4.59 billion in 2018, and their net profit was higher. A Dutch-owned company with international contracts, they are committed to 99 percent clean energy development. By contrast, Delaware provides 89 percent of its energy burning natural gas, a fossil fuel.

DNREC is selling out long-term energy benefits in the Skipjack deal for a measly one-time payment of $18 million. We need to demand better of our state leadership. DNREC needs to plan for our precarious future.

Barbara Shamp
Selbyville