This article is the second part in a two-part series. You can find Part 1 here.
Texas Project (Continued)
“We are very pleased that construction on the Mockingbird Solar Center is set to commence next week. The Mockingbird Solar Center will bring new construction and maintenance jobs to the area and new tax revenue for our community and school districts over the life of the project. We look forward to working with Ørsted as a partner in our community in the decades ahead,” said Maureen Hammond, Executive Director of the Paris Economic Development Corporation.
Boasting the ability to deliver clean energy that powers over 80,000 homes, Ørsted’s Mockingbird Solar Center is committed to preserving habitat and providing a profound economic impact for Lamar County. With its groundbreaking technology, emissions will be reduced significantly throughout the life of this project while creating numerous jobs and generating vital revenue for local businesses.
Lamar County, North Lamar, and Chisum Independent School Districts will all benefit immensely from the Mockingbird Solar Center project. More than 200 jobs are estimated to be created during construction as well as permanent positions for operation and maintenance; a staggering $215 million dollars of economic activity is also expected throughout its lifetime. Not only that, but it will generate considerable tax revenue which could help boost local businesses and services.
“We need to deliver green energy for this generation while protecting natural habitats for the next. That is why we’ve prioritized the Smiley-Woodfin Prairie in Texas as our first biodiversity initiative in the United States,” said Daniel Willard, Biodiversity Specialist at Ørsted. “We want to thank The Nature Conservancy for working with us on this conservation effort. Drawing on both internal expertise and outside guidance, we will continue to look for opportunities to protect the prairie and ensure that native plants and pollinators thrive.”
Ørsted has committed to purchasing close to 1,000 acres of prairie land in order to donate it into the care and custody of The Nature Conservancy (TNC). This will ensure that this habitat is protected from any future development. To guarantee its safety, TNC will take ownership before construction begins on the solar farm. Work is expected start up by January 2024 and finish sometime later down the line that same year — bringing sustainable energy sources closer towards becoming a reality for all.
“The Nature Conservancy has long recognized the unique significance of the Smiley-Woodfin Prairie,” said TNC State Director Suzanne Scott. “Our goal is to manage the native prairie conveyed to TNC to maintain and enhance its biological and botanical diversity. In collaboration with Ørsted, we aim to reduce impacts on native vegetation within the remaining property and provide guidance on how to steward this land going forward.”
The prairie ecosystem is an incredibly valuable and productive asset providing a variety of benefits. Floods are prevented, water filtration occurs naturally, and carbon storage takes place in these wondrous lands. Additionally, they act as habitats to many species like birds, monarch butterflies, bees, and other pollinators.
In order to assess the land impact of the project, Ørsted initiated a biodiversity review that identified areas for conservation with unique plant species and native grassland structures in Texas. To minimize any development impacts caused by Ørsted’s solar farm, guidelines and recommendations from TNC will be implemented.
“Through negotiations between Ørsted and the private landowner, we will be able to achieve an important conservation outcome – preserving a remnant of one of the rarest plant communities in Texas,” said TNC Land Protection Strategy Director David Bezanson.
Through this ambitious endeavor, Ørsted plans to dedicate the most pristine part of the Smiley-Woodfin Prairie in support of grassland conservation across America. This plays into its goal that all renewable energy projects have a net positive impact on biodiversity by 2030. In addition, it has launched several global programs which seek to protect and replenish coral beds, observe crustacean habitats, revive seagrass ecosystems and reintroduce oysters.
Continued Expansion In The United States
These two projects aren’t the only thing the company has been up to the in the United States. This company is rapidly expanding with a workforce of around 650 and an ever-growing portfolio of green energy investments including offshore wind, land-based wind, solar power storage technology, and e-fuels.
As a pioneering force in the realm of renewable energy across the United States, Ørsted holds an impressive position amongst offshore wind energy with over 5 gigawatts currently under development. As a trailblazer in this field, it launched America’s first ever offshore wind farm off Block Island and possess total US-based capacity of 5 gigawatts that spans from wind to solar power storage technology and e-fuels.
Taking A Bigger Role In A New Jersey Project
Ørsted has recently announced the signing of an agreement to obtain Public Service Enterprise Group’s (PSEG) 25% equity stake in Ocean Wind 1, a whopping 1100 MW offshore wind energy project situated 15 miles from New Jersey’s southern coast. This acquisition gives Ørsted full ownership over Ocean Wind 1.
As Ocean Wind 1 progresses through its planning and development, New Jersey will benefit from Ørsted’s assurance of economical energy as well as economic opportunity across the state and region. PSEG will be responsible for constructing onshore infrastructure to help ensure this is achieved.
To secure the future of Ocean Wind 1, Ørsted has devoted $695 million to instate spending that will generate hundreds of jobs as well as other advantages. This includes building an operations and maintenance facility in Atlantic City, investing over $100 million into a monopile facility at Paulsboro’s Port, allocating more than $20 million towards Pro-NJ Grantor Trust plus establishing North American Digital Operations headquarters in Newark. Additionally, they have partaken in a 10-year scholarship program with New Jersey Institute Of Technology that stands tall at a staggering amount of $1.5 Million.
“PSEG has been a valuable partner as we have advanced Ocean Wind 1 to this point and as we’ve successfully advanced our offshore wind vision in the United States. With a well-established presence in the U.S., we’re confident in our ability to drive the project forward with commercial operations beginning as planned,” said David Hardy, Group EVP and CEO Americas at Ørsted.
We anticipate the transaction between Ørsted and PSEG to close in the first half of 2023, assuming all necessary conditions are met. Power delivery from Ocean Wind 1 is slated for late 2024, with full commissioning anticipated by 2025.
Featured image provided by Ørsted.
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