Library filed under Impact on Landscape from Maryland
A recent article discussing environmental concerns about renewable energy (”Locals worry wind and solar will gobble up forests and farms,” April 30) highlighted the central issue around achieving carbon emission goals — the balance between reducing carbon emissions and preserving carbon sinks. While it is true that large ground-mounted projects are cheaper than smaller solar projects on rooftops and previously developed sites, there is more to the story.
“Skipjack’s duty to reach out to stakeholders was not contingent on the stakeholders’ enthusiasm for the project,” according to the ruling. “Ocean City is an important stakeholder whose economy is vital to the state. Nor should Ocean City be punished for its lawful advocacy of a bill that would have required offshore wind turbines to be located at least 26 miles from shore.” As a result, the Public Service Commission ordered Ørsted to engage with its stakeholders more, including Ocean City, and provide updates every six months on the company's efforts.
Ocean City has stated numerous times that the town is supportive of offshore wind energy as being a viable source of clean energy; but town officials, residents, and visitors clearly are not willing to sacrifice Ocean City’s natural Atlantic view. The Coastal Association of REALTORS® and the local real estate industry are fully supportive of the town’s position and we reiterate their legitimate and relevant concern that these turbines will forever change one of Ocean City’s most valuable assets – its viewshed.
It is part of a larger inquiry that will examine the decision by two prospective wind farm operations, Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind and U.S. Wind, to increase the size of their wind turbines, and its possible effects on Ocean City’s coastal aesthetic. Residents, visitors, proponents, opponents, city leaders and stakeholders will have the opportunity to voice their opinions at the hearing. City officials see this session as an opportunity to turn the tide on a project they contend will harm the resort’s economy.
On the eve of the highly-anticipated public hearing on the increased height of the proposed offshore wind turbines off the resort coast, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) this week approved the town’s petition to intervene and also changed the hearing’s site within the convention center to accommodate the expected crowd.
Eighty-four percent of respondents to a survey on offshore wind are primarily opposed to two things, said the Caesar Rodney Institute's David Stevenson. "One is visible wind turbines off the shore, and the second is using Fenwick Island State Park as place for landfall for the transmission line,
Residents and property owners fear that aside from driving tourists to vacation elsewhere, visible wind turbines could drive down real estate values. Michael James, managing partner of the 21-story Carousel Hotel at 118th Street and Coastal Highway, said he worries the sight of turbines four times taller than that building would ruin a view that people pay a premium for. “A lot of people work a long time to come to Ocean City and buy a condo,” he said. “It is a resort where view matters.”
One of the foremost concerns voiced by residents was that the MOU had been signed in July and notice of the public presentation wasn’t made till September. “I’m frustrated that it got to this point and we didn’t even know about it,” resident Marlene Quinn said. ...Each of the Fenwick Island council members who spoke at the council meeting expressed opposition to the project, although the council as a whole has not taken a position either way. All were present except council member Richard Mais.
MDE Secretary Ben Grumbles said in a statement that the projects posed “an unacceptable trade-off for the environmental benefits of clean energy. ...these two proposed projects would harm the nearby high-quality stream in Charles County and threaten our continued restoration progress in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.” ...The projects’ rejections come amid continuing friction in Maryland over the siting of renewable energy projects, particularly solar.
After listening to more than half a dozen Walkersville residents, the applicant and county staff, Frederick County Council members voted to deny a request for rezoning for a proposed solar array in Walkersville.
Environmentalists are in a position they never imagined: Fighting a solar panel project that would help Georgetown University dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. They say the project, which involves razing about 210 acres of trees in rural Charles County, Md., could endanger the area’s birds and lead to runoff that would put tributaries to the Chesapeake Bay at risk.
“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.
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.
“Our committee has become concerned that the planned wind farm development off the coast of Ocean City, as currently conceived, could have a serious, negative impact on Ocean Pines Association property owners, as well as a majority of county residents and businesses,” Wolf said. “Our apprehension is based on certain findings of a study by North Carolina State University regarding the impact of wind farms on coastal tourism.”
The Harris amendment bars federal funding from being spent on government reviews of wind projects built within 24 miles of Maryland's shoreline. Any construction that takes place farther out to sea would be unaffected.
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.
OCEAN CITY — With the clock ticking on a Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) decision on one of two offshore wind project proposals off the coast of Ocean City, or perhaps both, resort officials this week decided to fire off another letter expressing their desire to have the turbines far enough beyond the horizon to have zero visual impact on the town.
Councilman Tony DeLuca, who first asked the council send a letter of opposition to the U.S. Wind’s proposal, still had reservations about this project’s visual impact. “I’ve talked to three engineers and all of them told me that with the curvature of the earth and the horizon, they would have to be at least 26 miles offshore to be not visible at all,” DeLuca said.
US Wind reached out to the town offering to move the wind farm another five miles out, if need be. While council member and secretary Mary Knight expressed optimism in US Wind's willingness to compromise, her concerns still remained that the projects could have a negative impact on Ocean City.
After getting a glimpse of “dramatic” renderings of the potential offshore wind energy farm last month, resort officials this week unanimously agreed to send a letter voicing opposition to the close proximity of the project to the shore.