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News
Ørsted to deploy record size turbines in Atlantic City offshore wind farm

ATLANTIC CITY — The 1,100 megawatt Ocean Wind offshore wind farm to be built off the coast here will deploy a new generation 12 megawatt turbine that will be the largest and most powerful in the world, according to the developer of the project.

GE Renewable Energy will supply the newly developed turbines to the Atlantic City project, which will be the third largest wind farm in the world and open in 2024, Danish company Ørsted announced Thursday.

In March 2018, GE announced it was embarking on producing the world’s first 12 MW turbine, which some in the industry said could not be done.

While Ørsted recently announced it will mainly transmit Ocean Wind’s electricity into the grid at the closed Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township, it also is still looking at sending some power through other New Jersey locations.

“There are a couple of other options we are looking at, including B.L. England,” Thomas Brostrøm, CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, said of the closed electric generating plant in Beesleys Point, Upper Township.

Oyster Creek’s facility can only take 800 of the 1,100 MW the wind farm will generate, he said.

Ørsted will first use the 12 MW turbiens on Ørsted’s much smaller 120 MW Skipjack wind farm off Maryland, expected to be in operation by 2022. Skipjack and Ocean Wind will be the world’s first commercial deployment of GE’s Haliade-X 12 MW offshore wind turbine, according to Ørsted.

“Basically, 8 MW to 9.5 MW or 10 MW turbines have been used recently,” Brostrøm said, compared to the GE machines at 12 MW. “With the introduction of 12 MW, it is going to be the biggest machine ever deployed — the most powerful machines in the world.”

Ørsted was the first to deploy an 8 MW turbine in 2016. A 12 MW platform represents a 50% increase in power output per unit, according to the company.

The new units are bigger in megawatts generated and capacity and rotor diameter, he said.

“It’s how much wind can you capture?” Brostrøm said. “There’s a balance there.”

The GE turbine has a rotor diameter of 220 meters (722 feet). Each blade is 107 meters (351 feet) long, sweeping a total area of 38.000 square meters (409,000 square feet), according to Ørsted.

To put it in perspective, the company said turbines available in 1991 when Ørsted constructed the world’s first offshore wind farm in Europe only had a capacity to generate 0.45 MW. Back then, a 600 MW offshore wind farm would have required more than 1,300 wind turbines.

Using 12 MW turbines, 600 MW can be achieved with only 50 units. Technological improvements have made producing offshore wind much cheaper, Brostrøm said.

There is some risk to using a new generation turbine.

“We’ve done years of technical due diligence, so we are comfortable and confident in the machine,” Brostrøm said. “And we will set up and deploy them on Skipjack the first 10 turbines.”

Ørsted will get calibration and learn from that, and factor it in before deploying in the much larger Ocean Wind project, which will use 90 turbines.

The United State’s first wind farm, a 30 MW facility now operated by Ørsted, used 6 MW turbines, said Lauren Burm of Ørsted. It was built in 2016 off Block Island, Rhode Island.

GE Offshore Wind CEO John Lavelle said the company saw the offshore wind market growing globally and looked at where GE could use its strengths to create unique products and drive down the costs of producing green energy.

“It resulted in a bigger, more powerful and efficient machine,” Lavelle said, using a “regimented, step-by-step process.”

By the time GE announced it would produce the world’s first 12 MW turbine, the company already had done about 12 months of technological development,” Lavelle said.

“We already had a lot of design concepts under way before GE management would say ‘we approve’ — before GE was comfortable, we knew what we were doing,” he said.

The company brought in some of the best minds from across GE, based in the U.S. and several other countries, to help.

“Now that we are completing the prototype and have that installed, we start the design validation phase and operate and test for another year,” Lavelle said.

In about two years, the company will start to produce the first tubines for Skipjack, he said, then for the Ocean Wind project.

Turbines are likely to keep getting bigger, Lavelle said.

“I never say never. You always can figure out a way,” Lavelle said, citing ongoing technological developments likely to come out of GE’s Technological Global Reserach Center in the near future.

“We may invent something in the labs — come up with something completely different in 10 years,” Lavelle said.

Brostrøm said Ørsted is now getting all the necessary permits for the project and will start construction in the early 2020s. That’s when the region will start to see job creation really pick up, he said.

“We are super excited to bring a third supplier into the industry in a big way,” Brostrøm said of GE. “It has been Siemans and MHI Vestas forever. A strong company like GE stepping in to the U.S. offshore market is a big thing for us,” making the supply chain more robust and adding competition to the field.

In the U.S. alone, seven states on the East Coast have committed to building a total of 20 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035, according to Ørsted.

In the U.S., Ørsted has been awarded the rights to build offshore wind farms to serve the markets of Maryland, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York and Connecticut. They will have a total capacity of about 2.9 gigawatts and will be built by 2024, the company said.


Crime
Residents hold vigil for 5-year-old Bridgeton girl missing since Monday

BRIDGETON — “A lot of people say candle lights are for the dead, but they’re not,” Jackie Rodriguez said to a crowd of hundreds circled around her Saturday night.

“I want to bring everybody together so we can pray as one and be as one.”

Rodriguez, of Buena, organized a vigil at Ridgeway-Hunter Field for 5-year-old Dulce Maria Alavez, who authorities say may have been abducted last Monday from the nearby park. Those assembled sang and prayed for the girl’s safe return.

The girl’s grandmother, Norma Perez Alavez, who speaks Spanish, asked anyone to come forward if they knew any information that would help to bring Dulce home.

“She’s begging you from the bottom of her heart,” Rodriguez translated. “She misses her. She needs her.”

Dulce was reported missing Sept. 16, and State Police issued an Amber Alert for her the next day. Police said the girl may have been taken by a light skinned, possibly Hispanic male. The man led Dulce away from the City Park playground, where she was playing with her 3-year-old brother, and into a red van with a sliding side door and tinted windows.

Her mother, 19-year-old Noema Alavez Perez, was sitting in her car with an 8-year-old relative when she saw her son run back to the car crying and pointing to where he last saw Dulce, police said.

City police, the Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office, State Police and the FBI are investigating. Since Dulce’s disappearance, officials have searched for her using dogs, helicopters and boats to no avail. A $35,000 reward has been offered for information leading to Dulce’s whereabouts.

Carmen Martinez, 36, drove from Jersey City, Hudson County, with her young son and daughter because the story touched her heart, she said.

“I think having this event made people more comfortable to come out if they know something,” Martinez said. “Because everyone here was united.”

Many of Dulce’s family members, wearing yellow shirts with the missing poster printed on the front, stayed outside the circle during the vigil.

Authorities have discounted rumors that Dulce’s mother was arrested during the investigation.

During a news conference Friday afternoon, police Chief Michael Gaimari said reports that Alavez Perez was arrested were erroneous, adding that officials had conducted as many as 70 interviews so far in the investigation.

The next day, the county Prosecutor’s Office posted a statement to its Facebook account with a screenshot of a post saying Alavez Perez had been arrested.

“Each time someone posts a false rumor like this, it pulls our attention away from doing all that we can to locate Dulce,” according to the post.

At the end of the vigil, Mayor Albert B. Kelly asked everyone to pray at 10 p.m. to “put God to the test” for Dulce, her family and the law enforcement officials who were out searching.

“When we find her, we will come out here and celebrate,” Kelly said. “The party’s on me.”

Anyone with information can call Bridgeton police at 856-451-0033.

GALLERY: Vigil for missing Bridgeton girl Dulce Maria Alavez

Local
Work has begun to reshape former Kmart site in Rio Grande

The former Kmart at the Rio Mall in Rio Grande, is in the process of being converted into goverment offices. Tuesday Sept. 17, 2019. Currently the parking lot is being redone. Dale Gerhard | For The Press

MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Work began last week on the shopping center that was once home to Kmart and is planned to become the hub for social services in Cape May County.

Crews tore up sidewalks and prepared to repave the sprawling lot near Routes 47 and 9 near the heart of one of the largest retail areas in Cape May County. The Kmart closed in early 2017. Other businesses on the property, including the movie theater, also have shut down.

On the afternoon of Sept. 16, the Rent-A-Center in the corner of the shopping area once known as the Kmart Plaza was the only open business. To reach the store, potential customers had to pass the heavy equipment on site and a series of orange cones.

The store appeared to have the only intact section of sidewalk.

“It’s been tough. It’s going to get a lot tougher in the next week,” said store manager Craig Roberson.

That’s when the sidewalk and paving work is expected to begin in earnest.

“But it’s going to get a lot better,” Roberson said. “We’re going to get foot traffic back.”

Since the Kmart shut its doors, he said, most customers call ahead to confirm the store is still open. He said it’s been at the location for about 17 years, and he expects the property to remain under county ownership. The only thing that’s changed is where they pay the rent.

In the short term, he said, he’s looking forward to new paving and sidewalks that will meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards. In the longer term, new life in the former Kmart building will mean a big improvement for the shopping center.

Cape May County purchased the property for $5.75 million at auction in 2018, announcing plans in December to consolidate county offices and create a medical clinic for veterans at the site. County officials have said the Department of Veterans Affairs is set to pay $1.3 million toward renovations to the building, with the county planning to spend millions more.

Plans call for commercial operations to continue at the site as well. That means a portion of the property will remain on the township’s tax rolls, Mayor Timothy Donohue said.

The Rio Grande site isn’t the only former store being converted to government offices. Pleasantville officials said earlier this year that the state Office of Parental Representation and the state Office of Law Guardian will go into the old Kmart building in the Pleasantville Shopping Center on the Black Horse Pike.

Cape May County’s plans were part of the discussion at a workshop meeting of the Township Committee, held Sept. 16 in the Rio Grande Fire Hall across Route 47 from the former Kmart. County officials are expected to give a more detailed update at an October meeting, Donohue said.

Plans are for a private business section of the plaza and a public services area near Route 9, Donohue said.

That will include consolidating the county Social Services offices, now nearby on Route 9, the One-Stop Career Center now at 3810 New Jersey Ave. in Wildwood and other county offices inside the former Kmart building, along with the VA clinic. The veterans’ clinic could be open by the spring.

The first new private tenant already has signed a lease, Donohue said. Tractor Supply could be open before the end of 2019. The county sought proposals from companies to reopen the movie theater but has not yet approved a deal, Donohue said. He described an ambitious plan that will go beyond theaters to create a family entertainment center at the site.

Cape May County has a deal with the Cumberland County Improvement Authority to serve as project manager and to manage the commercial properties.

According to Donohue, the county is set to invest about $25 million in the property. The alternative would have likely meant the plaza closing entirely, he said.

“That’s a win for the county, and I think it’s definitely a win for Middle Township,” Donohue said. “It’s good to see something physically happening there. That means there’s no turning back at this point.”

The noncounty commercial uses at the site will be taxable, township attorney Marcus Karavan said.

Rio Grande has seen massive growth in commercial development over the past two decades. In February, Walmart opened an expanded SuperCenter, offering groceries and produce as part of a multimillion-dollar renovation.

The area also is among the most troubled in the county, with police paying particular attention to it in recent years.

Police Chief Christopher Leusner told committee members last week about 30% of the reported crimes in the township took place within half a square mile of 9 and 47. He said efforts to increase enforcement in that area and opening a police substation in Rio Grande in 2016 have started to pay off. Reported crime is down in Rio Grande and around the township, he said.

“The research is clear. The police activity in these areas has a positive effect on these areas. People see the increased police activity. It acts as a deterrent,” Leusner said.

IKEA, and 49 other things we wish South Jersey had

Missamerica
Atlantic City pageant traditions continue with Miss'd America

Once again, a pageant winner was crowned in Atlantic City.

She wore a glittering evening gown, a crown was pinned to the bouffant up-do hair high atop her head and she waved to the adoring audience as she walked the runway.

She also happened to be a 6-foot tall drag queen who wowed the judges with an opera-turned-jazz vocal performance — complete with costume reveals and choreography.

Sapphira Cristal was named the new Miss’d America Saturday night at Hard Rock Atlantic City’s Soundwaves Theater.

Sapphira, also known as O’Niell Nichol Haynes, 31, is from Houston and currently works as a professional drag performer in New York, Philadelphia and Boston.

After winning the crown, Haynes said the preparation for this year’s pageant came from not only seven years of participating in the Miss’d America Pageant, but also being in the moment and enjoying being on stage.

Atlantic City has been a town synonymous with pageants for nearly 100 years.

The elements of the Miss’d America Pageant are much the same as the pageant it once lampooned.

On stage, the contestants are judged in swimsuits, evening gown, interview and talent categories. Off stage, the audience is full of fans pouring over the program book and cheering on their favorites. A number of officials from City Hall and state agencies past and present were recognized either in the audience or on the judges panel.

The seven contestants — obviously not enough to represent every state in the country— take the pageantry seriously, with hours of rehearsals.

The on-stage questions genuinely ask the contestants to give opinions on current events — in 30 seconds.

Suzette Charles, Miss America 1984 and one of this year’s judges, posed the question to the Miss’d America contestant Boxxa Vine: Should the Miss America pageant should return to Atlantic City.

Boxxa Vine, from Massachusetts, said the pageant should come back as an Atlantic City event, adding that “tradition is extremely important.”

The Miss America Organization announced in April its pageant would be held at Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, much to the dismay of local pageant fans.

The jokes rolled on throughout Saturday night, with host Carson Kressely saying the MAO pageant fans will be upset they have to pump their own gas and won’t find a good diner in Connecticut. But other than a few quick jabs, Miss’d America carried on as its own brand of campy stage show.

While the Miss’d America Pageant continues, organizers haven’t forgotten the base of the event: the community.

With Miss America once again leaving Atlantic City, Miss’d America made sure to let the area know it was here to stay. Earlier this month, Miss’d America 2019 Adriana Trenta was on a float in the city’s Celebrate America Parade and the drag pageant organizers minced no words announcing their pageant would always have a runway and swimsuits.

“We’ve come for the last five years. It’s really just about supporting the community and enjoying the atmosphere,” said Anne Marie Smarra, of Absecon.

Smara, along with friends Dot Bickel, of Hammonton and Diana Ritter of Wall Township, were one of hundreds of groups friends at the pageant, seeking a night of entertainment.

“Look at the costumes and the makeup and the dancing — it’s an art form!” said Bickel.

Haynes, who turned a degree in Voice and Opera from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester into a career as a professional drag performer, can now add the pageant title when billed as his glamorous persona on stage.

“I think singing opera lends itself well to being a type of drag performance. If you go to the opera and you see the large stage sets, the costumes … it’s drag,” said Haynes, “so, I would love to help bring opera and into drag.”

As performers strive to make their shows bigger and grander, organizers of Miss’d America have worked hard to keep up with the demand for drag.

The Miss’d America Pageant started as a small themed party at John Schultz and Gary Hill’s Studio Six nightclub in the 1990s and has grown into a full stage production with dozens of volunteers and loyal fans.

“The goal was always to have fun,” said Hill.

Initially a celebration and spoof of one of the city’s most famous traditions, Miss’d America become the Greater Atlantic City GLBT Alliance’s biggest fundraiser, generating more than $400,000 over the years to support many area LGBTQ charities and initiatives.

The reigning Miss’d America spends her year performing at regional pride events and representing the title.

Over the years, and with the changing of the Atlantic City nightlife scene, the pageant has moved venues and has now found a home at the Hard Rock. The new venue allowed for more VIP tables along the runway and the opportunity for the event to be live-streamed.

“With the events Miss’d America does and the exposure we get from having performers from different areas, I do see the pageant expanding,” Hill said.

Hard Rock also hopes to see Miss’d America Pageant grow as a widely known event.

“It’s a great show, and it’s great to be able to present the show to the local community and the regional community” said Joe Lupo, president of Hard Rock Atlantic City.

Officials at the event said it was sold out and was a big draw for many people in the region.

“We hope to have this in the bigger arena next year” said Lupo.

PHOTOS from the Miss'd America Pageant

GALLERY: Miss'd America Pageant

 lcarroll-pressofac  / 

The 28th annual Miss'D America Pageant took place Saturday night, with a new venue and new outlook, being the only pageant show in town this S…