Articles filed under Offshore Wind from Maryland
OCEAN CITY — For the first time in the prolonged battle over the distance of the proposed wind turbines off the coast of Ocean City, resort officials are getting tangible support from residents and visitors characterized this week as the “sleeping giant.”
At a hearing on the bill last week, Kevin Hughes, chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission, suggested that one of the wind farm projects could come before the panel again because developer U.S. Wind has said it plans to use larger wind turbines than it initially proposed. Del. Christopher Adams, an Eastern Shore Republican who sponsored the bill that was voted down, said he thinks that possible new review “suggests that there will be further deliberation” on Maryland wind farm proposals.
The battle over the proposed distance of offshore wind energy turbines from the Ocean City shoreline moved to the General Assembly this week with a hearing before a Senate committee that would require the distance to be at least 26 nautical miles.
“The two most important factors of Ocean City property values are location and view," Michael James, an Ocean City hotel executive, told the Finance Committee. “Seven-hundred-foot turbines will undoubtedly hurt property values.” Town officials say they support offshore wind energy but not wind turbines visible from condo and hotel balconies.
“Ocean City supports clean, unseen energy,” the mayor’s letter reads. “What that means is that we would like the turbines to be constructed at least 26 miles offshore, rather than the 12.9 to 17 miles as one developer is proposing. Our leadership is interested in both promoting green energy and providing job opportunities, but is also our duty as the Mayor and Council to preserve all that we have at stake, including the natural beauty of the beaches and waters in and adjacent to Ocean City.
“This is a big project that will be there for many, many years, and we only get one chance to make it right,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “Let’s not go build something we’re all going to regret.” The town's rejection is a political blow to America's first large-scale offshore wind development. But it is largely a symbolic one; the turbines are being planned in federal waters.
OCEAN CITY — Reiterating a position they have fostered for years, the Mayor and Council this week unanimously passed a resolution opposing the development of offshore wind energy turbines within view of the resort’s coastline.
The view of waters off Ocean City remains clear, while the possibility of electricity-generating wind turbines jutting up from the horizon is somewhat less so, as local government continued its effort either to kill the idea or push the turbines farther offshore and out of sight.
The researchers found that all three species were more likely to enter areas the government has established for offshore wind development during migration than during the winter. The gannets, in particular, trafficked the wind development areas most extensively while heading to or from breeding grounds in eastern Canada or wintering spots as far south as the Gulf of Mexico.
At least one of two offshore wind projects approved by Maryland utility regulators in May could be in jeopardy after an amendment sponsored by Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) that seeks to push the turbines farther from the coast was approved by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee in the past week.
Harris cited Ocean City’s concerns about impacts on views from the shoreline as the catalyst for the amendment. It’s important to note while Ocean City officials are not opposed to the offshore wind farm projects conceptually, they continue to express concern about the potential impact on the views from the shore and have pushed the companies to move the turbines back at least 26 miles.
The amendment restricts the use of federal funds to conduct a site assessment or construction and operation plans for wind turbines less than 24 nautical miles from Maryland’s shoreline – the distance at which the turbines would not be visible from the beach.
"We want them to be moved back to the horizon, so we don't see the towers. I really believe people come to Ocean City because they want to look out into the ocean, the undisturbed natural state of the ocean, and this will dramatically change that." -- Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan
Starting in 2020 Maryland’s electricity consumers will be paying higher electric bills in order to subsidize two wind projects to be developed off the Ocean City waterfront. Over the lives of these projects the subsidies will total more than $2 billion. Despite this exorbitant cost the projects will deliver no environmental benefits and, most likely, will contribute to global warming. How did this lose-lose situation come about?
Two months ago, Maryland regulators signed off on the state’s first two offshore wind farms.
In May, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved electricity-rate increases to fund two wind projects off the Ocean City shoreline. Over their 20-year life spans, these projects will cost Maryland electricity consumers more than $2 billion. Will they deliver economic benefits that justify their costs? Almost certainly not.
The developers of two wind farms planned off the coast of Ocean City are moving forward with their projects, accepting terms Maryland regulators laid out earlier this month in allowing them to collect subsidies from the state's electricity customers.
“Think about what 200 windmills would do to the sunrise,” James said to Harris on May 11. “People come here to enjoy that. They’ll be walking on the beach, seeing these things that are 670 feet tall. They say we’ll benefit from this, but it’s Delaware, Virginia and New Jersey beaches that’s going to benefit.”
The PSC decision comes just a week after the Mayor and Council fired off another strongly worded letter to the regulatory agency expressing a desire to have the offshore turbines sited at least 26 miles off the coast, or a distance determined to far enough out to have a zero visual impact from the shoreline.
Maryland waters could be home to some of the nation's first — and by far its largest — offshore wind farms under a decision issued Thursday by the state Public Service Commission to approve two projects.