Wind farm company meets with local contractors

The Skipjack Wind Farm project off the coast of Delmarva is still in the approval process, but its developer — the Danish firm Ørsted — gave local contractors a chance to learn more about obtaining work on the project at a networking event on Tuesday, Feb. 11.

The “Supplier Day” event attracted about 80 local businesspeople to what was essentially a “speed-dating” event, at which they had five minutes to chat with four potential lead contractors on the project.

Potential contractors on hand at the event, held at the Bethany Beach Ocean Suites hotel, were GE, Linxon, Burns McDonnell and Quanta. Representatives from each of those companies gave a brief presentation outlining their firms’ focuses and giving examples of some of the projects they have worked on.

The Skipjack project, now in the federal approval process, would include 850-foot-tall wind turbines about 20 miles off the Delaware and Maryland coast. The turbines would produce enough electricity to power 35,000 homes. A proposed partnership with Delaware State Parks was announced to the public in October.

The estimated $18 million project at Fenwick Island State Park would involve Ørsted bringing a power cable ashore at the park, to an interconnection facility on the park’s bay side. In return, Ørsted would fund, among other things, an expanded parking facility, a new building for the Bethany-Fenwick Chamber of Commerce and a space for indoor meetings and classes.

At Tuesday’s networking event, Linxon Sales Director Elliott Smith highlighted his company’s experience building substations similar to the one proposed for Fenwick Island. That substation, he said, is located in Anaheim, Calif., “down the street from Disneyland.

“So we had to keep ‘the Mouse’ happy, as well as the local community,” when designing the substation, Smith said. “It’s a fairly persnickety area.”

The project, Smith said, was so well-camouflaged that “you could literally walk by it between the palm trees and not know you’re passing a substation.”

Quanta Director of Operations Paul Zimmerman focused on his company’s working relationships with unions, as well as its experience building substations and power lines. Once contracts are awarded, Zimmerman said, “We bring subcontractors in from the very beginning.”

The networking meeting was for “tier one” contracts, which would be for onshore work, according to C. Matthew Drew, Ørsted’s lead manager for sourcing and onshore facilities.

While Maryland’s state government has made a commitment to renewable energy, calling for 50 percent of the state’s power to come from renewable sources by 2030, Delaware has made no such commitment as yet.

Drew said preliminary talks with a Delaware renewable-energy task force, beginning about 18 months ago “went very well,” however.

One local contractor, Chuck Lovendusky of Sea Love Construction Inc. in Frankford, was making the rounds of the four potential lead contractors during Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’m just here to feel it out,” Lovendusky said.

“It’s going to happen,” Lovendusky said of the Skipjack project. “It would be nice to just be a part of it.”

Drew said Ørsted hopes to have requests for proposals out to the four companies within 30 days.


By Kerin Magill
Staff Reporter