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Inherit the wind

  • Oct 15, 2021
The Star Democrat

FEDERALSBURG – A $72 million agreement between multinational power company Ørsted and Delaware-based manufacturers Crystal Steel Fabricators will establish Maryland's first offshore wind steel fabrication center in Caroline County.

The arrangement, announced at the Federalsburg facility Thursday, Oct. 14, directs local steel workers into the development of at least three Ørsted projects, including the Skipjack Wind program off the Delmarva Peninsula, dedicated to renewable energy and the growth of a national offshore wind industry.

"Maryland's Eastern Shore is an outstanding location for expanding offshore wind's domestic supply chain," said Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy. The company, founded in Denmark in 2006, has been regularly recognized as a global leader on climate action. Earlier this year, it was ranked as the world's most sustainable energy company by Corporate Knights.

"For decades, offshore wind steel fabrication jobs were located overseas," Hardy added. "So, we are particularly excited to bring these sustainable, good-paying jobs here to America as part of our buildout of a new 21st century American industry."

Crystal Steel workers, who will see their workforce increase by 30 percent thanks to the deal, will manufacture large-scale steel components fundamental to the implementation of turbine foundations based off the East Coast. Specifically, the components, ranging from nine to 16 tons, will be used to help build boat landings, internal and exterior platforms, ladders, and other items.

According to Crystal Steel Fabricators President William Lo, the components, set for the Atlantic Ocean, will be exposed to the "harshest environment (imaginable) for steel." Once implemented, the turbines will be used to power 1.3 million homes across the state with renewable energy.

Construction on the new, state-of-the-art facilities will begin this month, according to a news release.

"Ørsted is a cutting-edge company that has made it their mission to create a world that runs on green energy, and they are progressing toward that goal by continuing to invest in Maryland," Gov. Larry Hogan, who was in Federalsburg Thursday, said in a statement. "I am confident that our state will continue to be a prime location for offshore wind development."

Other state and local officials were present for the announcement. State Sen. Addie Eckardt joined the governor in speaking, and representatives from the offices of U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, as well as Federalsburg Mayor Kimberly Jahnigen Abner attended.

"We appreciate all that you bring," Eckardt said to the two joining companies. "You are certainly pioneers and trailblazers, and that's what we need."

The announcement at the Caroline County facility marked Ørsted's second major collaboration and economic commitment on the Eastern Shore. In October, the company announced that it will construct Maryland's first emissions-free offshore and maintenance facility in West Ocean City, a project that will generate 110 jobs and $25 million in local investment.

"We've been promising to try to leave our state in better shape for future generations, and that means adding more jobs," said Hogan, whose term as governor ends in January 2023. "That means making Maryland more affordable, and it means investing in our state's energy future by embracing the latest technology and innovation.

"We're seeing all of those things in action here today."

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