Port of Wilmington planning $66 million wind power project
By AARON NATHANS • The News Journal • October 17, 2010
There has been plenty of controversy over the high price of offshore wind power, but few have disputed its potential to create jobs.
Port of Wilmington and NRG Bluewater Wind officials are making a play to capture those jobs in Wilmington. They are planning a $66 million staging facility where offshore wind foundations and turbines can be assembled and hauled out to sea.
The facility, located near the port, would have a shipping berth and crane sturdy enough to offload huge turbine and foundation components from European and Asian vessels.
They would be carried down a causeway and road to a large paved area that would be used as an assembly center. A rail connection already exists for parts being delivered domestically. The completed foundations and turbines would be sent back to the berth to be carried out to sea, where they would be installed in the ocean.
In August, the port and Bluewater applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation for a $22 million grant under a stimulus-funded program known as Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery -- the "TIGER grant."
State taxpayers would need to contribute another $22 million. An identical amount would be contributed by NRG. The project would go forward only with the federal grant, the parties said.
Construction would start next spring, and be completed by the end of 2012. The port would rent 25 acres from the Delaware Solid Waste Authority at the current site of its recycling processing center next door to the Pigeon Point landfill.
The wind developer and the port have already hired an architectural firm, Duffield Associates, to plan the facility. Tom Keefer, deputy director of the port, said the idea is to build a facility that will support the other planned offshore wind projects in the region.
"Whoever gets this built first is going to be in a key position to build those offshore projects," Keefer said.
The project would mean about 770 jobs during construction, and another 750 operational jobs once it is built, he said.