Ocean City invites residents and visitors to public meetings at the wind farm | News

Ocean City, MD – The city is encouraging Ocean City residents and visitors to attend public meetings regarding proposed wind farms off the city’s coast. Although the city says it is not opposed to wind energy, it is raising concerns about the impact on views off its coast, calling the latest release “Save Our Sunrise.”

“The proposed wind farms off the coast of Ocean City would be visible from our beach, impacting all residents, property owners and visitors. If the current proposal is approved, our landscape is at risk of being destroyed and lost forever,” the city said. “Ocean City supports building a wind farm and protecting the natural beauty of our beach for our children and grandchildren…We only have one chance to do this, so we need to do it right.”

Some of the city’s main concerns are the size and quantity of wind turbines. It says it is possible to build up to 121 turbines, each three times larger than the tallest buildings in the city. She also expressed her disagreement with the proximity of the turbines to the shore.







Wind turbine sizes

background

In August 2014, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management conducted a competitive lease sale for an approximately 47,000-acre area located 10 nautical miles off the coast of Ocean City in federal waters. US Wind has been identified as the winner of the lease.

There have been concerns raised by local officials and residents since about the potential economic and environmental impacts of the construction and operation of the proposed turbines, specifically regarding the protection of the scenic views along the horizon and the life of whales and other animals. Ocean City officials have requested a moratorium on wind farm development in the past.

In Delaware, people in Bethany Beach and Fenwick Island expressed similar concerns. Proposed developer Ørsted, the energy company leading the Skipjack Wind project, said the offshore wind industry is subject to marine mammal and protected species protection standards 24 hours a day, such as speed restrictions and training of on-board observers to monitor the animals.







Offshore wind cables

One development needed to continue offshore wind production is a site to bring cables ashore. Courtesy of the Office of Ocean Energy Management.


Also in response, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has funded multiple studies to collect information about the marine environment that it hopes will support decisions about marine renewable energy development.

One of those studies identified hotspots among a larger list of counties likely to be affected. In the study, hotspots were locations within a county with unique economic, social, or physical characteristics that set them apart from the county to which they belong. Differences included dependence on a particular type of tourist or marine activity and the good reputation of the landscape, among others.

Ocean City and Rehoboth Beach have been identified as hotspots, and the study indicates that further analysis on the impact of wind farm development in these areas is warranted.

“…projected impacts do not necessarily correspond to actual impacts,” said the report, prepared under a contract between the bureau and ICF Incorporated.

The study concluded that there was no negative impact on recreational boating or fishing, and that positive impacts could lead to diving and fishing, where turbine foundations could serve as artificial reefs and attract fish. She also pointed to the possibility of establishing a new tourism industry based on wind energy facilities, as European studies indicated the interest of tourists in visiting them. On the other hand, it showed that the impact of an offshore wind facility on the aesthetics of coastal areas is the primary factor that can influence recreational and tourism use.

Overall, little information has been found relating directly or indirectly to the impacts of offshore wind energy development on recreational and tourism economies. Existing studies are limited due to the ongoing nature of developing these types of projects. However, it noted that similar studies in Europe showed that opinions of slight acceptance or disapproval of wind farms during the development phase became more positive when the facilities started operating.

Virtual hearings on the proposed wind farms in Ocean City are scheduled for Thursday, October 19 at 1 p.m. and Monday, October 30 at 5 p.m. In-person public hearings will be held at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, October 24 at Ocean City Elementary School and Thursday, October 26 at Indian River High School. The public comment period ends on November 20.

(tags for translation)offshore wind

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