Ocean City Today

US Wind will erect tall weather tower

By Brian Gilliland | Mar 29, 2018
Photo by: Submitted photo A rendering of what the weather tower might end up looking like,

(March 30, 2018) US Wind, the Italian company that won rights to install offshore wind turbines in the southern leasing area as determined by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, has entered a deal to install and construct a weather station to monitor conditions at its site.

US Wind plans to install 32 turbines 17 miles offshore as Phase I of its offshore energy development, though local officials continue the fight to have the turbines moved even farther east.

US Wind announced the deal late last week, in which it contracted Houma, Louisiana-based Gulf Island Fabrication LLC to procure and construct a meteorological tower and support structure.

The tower is expected to leave Houma on July 7, and is scheduled to be installed on the Phase I site this August.

The weather tower is constructed as an intricate steel lattice tower at a height of about 330 feet. The supporting structure is constructed using a braced caisson, rather than tripod, base, according to a company press release.

Essentially, the tower slips over a column that is 72 inches thick below the mudline, and tapers to 60 inches from the mudline to the deck. Diagonal piles five feet in diameter provide additional stability, according to US Wind.

“The concept of the braced caisson is based on the Inward Battered Guide Structure, commonly known as the ‘twisted jacket.’ The IBGS is a patented solution by Keystone Engineering … This structure was first used by ExxonMobil in March 2005 offshore Louisiana and it survived a direct hit from Hurricane Katrina in August 2005 with no structural damage,” the press release reads.

The tower will be the first permanent structure built as part of the offshore wind project approved by the Public Service Commission in May 2017. The company has performed scans of the ocean floor in the lease area, but hasn’t built anything on the site yet.

Phase I of the project contains 32 wind turbines, and are expected to produce about 268 megawatts of electricity.

“This contract with Gulf Island Fabrication marks a significant milestone in US Wind’s aim to deliver the intended sustainable wind energy and job and economic benefits to the Maryland economy,” Riccardo Toto, president and CEO of US Wind, said in the release. “We are delighted to partner with highly-regarded Gulf Island Fabrication as we move further toward realizing this important project that will set a new standard in the United States for offshore wind energy generation.”

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