Offshore wind developer US Wind entered a partnership with Sea Risk Solutions LLC to step up the company’s effort to engage with fishermen who work the waters off Delaware, Maryland and Virginia – one of the East Coast’s major arenas for how wind energy develops.
Wolfgang Rain, chief coordinating officer for Sea Risk and senior project manager Ron Larsen are US Wind’s new fisheries liaisons for the commercial and recreational fishing sectors.
Bringing in Sea Risk “will ensure ongoing, consistent dialogue with fishermen as development activities ramp up,” US Wind said in a Feb. 22 statement. “Efforts will focus on the dissemination of information related to project milestones and survey activity, promotion of collaborative business opportunities, and coordination of regular opportunities to gather and respond to questions and concerns from the community.”
Sea Risk is already working with Dominion Energy, on the company’s twin-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind pilot project and its 27-mile export cable carrying power to shore at Virginia Beach, Va. The utility company plans that as a precursor to a 2.6-gigawatt wind turbine array to be built in the 2020s.
To the north, US Wind has 80,000-acre federal lease area off of the coast of Maryland, with potential for 1.5 GW of wind energy development. The company is also a contender for Maryland’s goal of procuring another 1.2 GW from developers already holding federal leases near the state.
“US Wind is committed to early, often, and continuous dialogue and information sharing with the fishermen in our region,” Nancy Sopko, director of external affairs for US Wind, said in announcing the partnership. “Getting Sea Risk Solutions onboard, particularly Wolfgang and Ron with their vast experience and connections in the fishing community is a huge step forward in these engagement efforts.”
Sea Risk Solutions is a U.S.-based small business with global and regional experience in “facilitating coexistence between offshore infrastructure developers and fishing communities,” according to US Wind. “The fisheries roots of Sea Risk’s staff are firmly planted in US East and West coast fisheries, with experience working with the fishermen and fisheries that operate in and around the US Wind lease area.”
“By working closely with local and regional fishermen, we can facilitate an exchange of information to help inform the wind farm development activities,” said Rain. “We look forward to engaging with the area’s fishermen and establishing a foundation for the long-term, cooperative relationship US Wind desires with its offshore neighbors.”
Rain has more than 23 years of experience as a commercial fisherman and fisheries biologist, with expertise in subsea cable permitting and regulatory issues, offshore wind development in the UK and Atlantic U.S. waters. He has served as liaison with maritime authorities, shipping interests, government agencies, and fishermen in more than 20 countries.
Ron Larsen has over 30 years of fisheries and subsea infrastructure planning experience. He spent ten years in the 1990s working in the East Coast fisheries observer program, first as a fisheries observer and then as the regional operations coordinator. In that role, Larsen had the opportunity to observe several local fisheries and work with local commercial fishermen, including many from Ocean City, Md., who are still active today.
Larsen returned to the Northeast fisheries scene in 2019 when he joined Sea Risk Solutions, “bringing his fisheries and subsea infrastructure planning experience to help inform offshore wind developers and the fishing communities about their respective activities and facilitate coexistence,” according to US Wind.