Article

Impact of offshore turbines assessed; Closer in poses threat to tourism

Ocean County could lose nearly $400 million in tourism revenues if a pilot project with wind turbines is placed 3 nautical miles off its coast, a new state-funded study says. But a wind farm farther offshore would have a much lower impact and would have a minimal economic impact overall if it were built off Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties. It could have a positive effect in some cases, according to the study by Global Insight, hired by the now-defunct New Jersey Commerce Commission. A project with dozens of wind turbines could be operating from 3 to 20 nautical miles off the coastline, from Seaside Park to Stone Harbor, in 2012. But most current proposals are for wind farms 8 to 18 miles off Atlantic or Cape May counties.

Ocean County could lose nearly $400 million in tourism revenues if a pilot project with wind turbines is placed 3 nautical miles off its coast, a new state-funded study says.

But a wind farm farther offshore would have a much lower impact and would have a minimal economic impact overall if it were built off Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties. It could have a positive effect in some cases, according to the study by Global Insight, hired by the now-defunct New Jersey Commerce Commission.

A project with dozens of wind turbines could be operating from 3 to 20 nautical miles off the coastline, from Seaside Park to Stone Harbor, in 2012. But most current proposals are for wind farms 8 to 18 miles off Atlantic or Cape May counties.

"Basically, one coastal county gets to be the sacrificial lamb, and I would ask which county freeholder director is going to step forward to volunteer his county to shift their tourism revenues to the next county over," said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a Sandy Hook-based coastal conservation group.

The idea of an offshore wind project will be "cautiously studied and considered carefully," said Joseph H. Vicari, Ocean... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Ocean County could lose nearly $400 million in tourism revenues if a pilot project with wind turbines is placed 3 nautical miles off its coast, a new state-funded study says.

But a wind farm farther offshore would have a much lower impact and would have a minimal economic impact overall if it were built off Ocean, Atlantic or Cape May counties. It could have a positive effect in some cases, according to the study by Global Insight, hired by the now-defunct New Jersey Commerce Commission.

A project with dozens of wind turbines could be operating from 3 to 20 nautical miles off the coastline, from Seaside Park to Stone Harbor, in 2012. But most current proposals are for wind farms 8 to 18 miles off Atlantic or Cape May counties.

"Basically, one coastal county gets to be the sacrificial lamb, and I would ask which county freeholder director is going to step forward to volunteer his county to shift their tourism revenues to the next county over," said Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a Sandy Hook-based coastal conservation group.

The idea of an offshore wind project will be "cautiously studied and considered carefully," said Joseph H. Vicari, Ocean County freeholder director.

"The tourist industry has not rejected it, but I'm concerned as far as the commercial fishermen have serious concerns," Vicari said.

The study, posted on the state Board of Public Utilities' Web site, analyzes the impact of a 288-megawatt wind farm on energy, tourism, construction, property value, image, fishing and economic development. It looked at the impact of wind farms 3, 6, 12 and 20 nautical miles from shore.

A state blue-ribbon panel has said New Jersey should facilitate a pilot project that would tap offshore wind energy, generating up to 350 megawatts of renewable, emission-free electricity.

Such a project would probably have about 70 turbines and provide power for about 125,000 homes, according to previous e-mails from a BPU spokesman.

The study compares the local and New Jersey costs and benefits of having or not having an offshore wind turbine project over 20 years.

In general, the results "show a minimal impact of a wind farm on the economy, compared to not building a wind farm," the study says. In certain cases, a wind farm can have a positive impact, "creating jobs and adding value to New Jersey."

"In most cases, assumptions have been made that would produce the largest negative impact of a potential wind farm," the study says. And the economic impacts translate into either growth that is slower than the trend or additional growth.

Among the study's findings:

The pilot project would have a negligible impact on the cost of electricity but is likely to reduce electricity prices by a small amount by reducing congestion on the electric transmission system.

Greenhouse gas emissions could drop by 430,000 metric tons.

Tourism spending lost or gained will directly affect only the county closest to the wind farm.

Tourism sales impacts are temporary and decline quickly, and lost revenues drop significantly if a potential wind farm is sited 6 nautical miles offshore instead of 3 nautical miles.

The major effect of an offshore wind farm on commercial and recreational fishing industry would be during the construction phase. During that phase, it is assumed that the grounds around the wind farm would be closed to recreational and commercial fishing boats and catch values could drop by $150,000 to $6.5 million.

Gov. Corzine supports the report, which is part of his "commitment to move New Jersey towards a cleaner, more independent power future," according to an e-mail from spokesman Robert Corrales.

"The report will help the state focus its efforts on investing in the right place and planning in a way that will lead to the least impact on environment and views," the e-mail says.

The report shows that "the impact of the differing distances from the shoreline will be incredibly useful to us in planning for an offshore wind array," the e-mail says. "Impacts to the local community will be a major consideration to us as we determine when, where and how much offshore wind to plan for."

The New Jersey Commerce Commission paid $123,500 for the study, according to an e-mail from BPU spokesman Doyal Siddell.

"I think the money could have been better spent helping to get the windmills built further offshore where they wouldn't have any visual impact," said Jeff Tittel, director of the Sierra Club's New Jersey chapter.


Source: http://www.app.com/apps/pbc...

SEP 9 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/17004-impact-of-offshore-turbines-assessed-closer-in-poses-threat-to-tourism
back to top