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Cape May County business chamber opposes wind power

Press of Atlantic City|Bill Barlow|July 2, 2023
New JerseyOffshore Wind

Barbara Stafford Jones, the president and CEO of the county chamber, said Friday the organization had originally not taken a position on wind power but was swayed by information provided by county officials. Stafford cited projections that a wind farm could reduce the tourism business by 15%, which she said could mean significant job losses in a county with an economy dependent on summer visitors. "We just came out of COVID, where we lost 20%. We rebounded. We can't take another loss," she said.


CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter supporting county government's opposition to a planned offshore wind power project, county officials announced on Friday.

Previously, in public statements and at hearings on the proposal, the local business group raised concerns about the potential impact on tourism and the fishing industry, but was careful not to come down either for or against offshore wind power development, which Gov. Phil Murphy has touted as the start of a huge and lucrative new industry.

Barbara Stafford Jones, the president and CEO of the county chamber, said Friday the organization had originally not taken a position on wind power but was swayed by information provided by county …

... more [truncated due to possible copyright]

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – The Cape May County Chamber of Commerce has sent a letter supporting county government's opposition to a planned offshore wind power project, county officials announced on Friday.

Previously, in public statements and at hearings on the proposal, the local business group raised concerns about the potential impact on tourism and the fishing industry, but was careful not to come down either for or against offshore wind power development, which Gov. Phil Murphy has touted as the start of a huge and lucrative new industry.

Barbara Stafford Jones, the president and CEO of the county chamber, said Friday the organization had originally not taken a position on wind power but was swayed by information provided by county officials.

Stafford cited projections that a wind farm could reduce the tourism business by 15%, which she said could mean significant job losses in a county with an economy dependent on summer visitors.

"We just came out of COVID, where we lost 20%. We rebounded. We can't take another loss," she said.

For years, Vicki Clark was the face of the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce. She retired last year, after 31 years with the organization, 17 of which were as president.

Clark had spoken publicly about wind power on several occasions, always carefully threading a needle between raising concerns over potential harm to existing industries and supporting the potential economic benefit.

Emily Paul replaced her as the new chamber president in the spring of 2022. Stafford Jones said she has been the president since March.

But she said the core message of the organization has not changed.

"The message has remained the same since 2017, that the offshore wind industry has to work cooperatively with the existing industries," she said Friday. "Just because there's been a change in leadership doesn't mean there's been a change in position."

County officials touted the chamber's decision in a Friday statement, citing a letter sent in support of a county resolution.

The Cape May County Board of Commissioners in May approved a resolution outlining its opposition to the proposals for two large-scale wind power projects, Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2, proposed by the Danish energy company Ørsted.

The first phase, Ocean Wind 1, is proposed to include 98 huge turbines, which will be visible from the beaches of Cape May County. The Murphy administration has supported the project, and the state legislature on Friday approved a bill that will allow the project to keep federal tax benefits that were established after New Jersey approved the project. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

Cape May County's governing body, which is entirely Republican, has cited both the potential economic impact of the project and what local officials argue is the environmental cost of offshore wind turbines.

"It is important that the leaders of our community stand united in our opposition to the Ørsted projects as long as so many important questions remain unanswered," said County Commission Director Len Desiderio. "We have been left with no choice but to take a firm position in defense of our working families, our economy and our environment. Having the Cape May County Chamber of Commerce as a partner in this effort could not be more important. The Chamber has been working since 1916 to promote tourism in Cape May County."

Desiderio also cited the economic impact of the pandemic, which devastated local businesses, although officials say the economy has rebounded since then.

The county statement also cited marine mammal deaths over the winter. Federal officials insist there is no evidence of a connection between the deaths and offshore work done in preparation of the wind projects, but officials in coastal communities remain skeptical.

"Any offshore wind project must be done responsibly and in collaboration with local communities, including commercial and recreational fishing stakeholders," said Stafford on behalf of the Chamber of Commerce.

Taken together, Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 could mean close to 200 wind turbines off the coast, visible from the beaches.


Source:https://energycentral.com/new…

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