Library filed under Impact on Views from Maryland
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.
The town of Ocean City's objections to two offshore wind farm proposals are getting an airing in Annapolis. A new Maryland General Assembly bill would prohibit any turbines from being erected within 26 miles of the coast, mirroring a resolution that sailed through the Town Council last month.
“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.
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.
“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.”
When the House Appropriations Committee approved the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2018 on Tuesday, it also OK’d an amendment opposing the development of offshore wind in Maryland.
"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
Two months ago, Maryland regulators signed off on the state’s first two offshore wind farms.
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.
“US Wind understands the council’s opinions regarding viewshed impacts of the offshore wind project and has taken these publicly expressed concerns seriously,” the letter reads. “To further address your concerns, US Wind remains willing to discuss altering the current wind project layout in an attempt to reduce viewshed impacts for Ocean City."
Other than arguing that these wind farms would be good for the planet and reduce our dependence on foreign oil or domestic coal, there isn’t one thing in these proposals that Ocean City government can take to its constituents and its visitors and say, “Look, here’s what we stand to gain, so balance that out with what we stand to lose.”
This is a photosimulation of U.S. Wind's proposed offshore wind facility to be sited 12-miles off the coast of Maryland. U.S. Wind secured the lease rights to two locations off the coast of Ocean City. In total the company is seeking permission to erect up to 187 turbines (750 MW) within an 80,000-acre area.
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.
This research examines the impact of offshore wind power projects on beach recreation on the East Coast of the United States. Data was collected from a 2015 online survey of 2,051 randomly drawn residents over 20 states on the east coast. The data were stratified to oversample beachgoers, but included non-beachgoers as well. Respondents were shown visual simulations of offshore wind power projects as they would have appeared on a beach they recently visited and were asked how their presence would have affected their beach trips. A summary of the findings is provided below. The full report can be accessed by selecting the document links on this page.
During a work session last week, the Ocean City Mayor and Council reviewed a presentation from Bluewater Wind proposing a 200-turbine wind farm off the coast of the resort with construction beginning by 2013. Delaware recently approved a similar, albeit smaller, project off its Atlantic coastline with an anticipated 60-70 turbines producing enough energy to supply about 50,000 homes in that state. While all agreed the idea has merit from an alternative, renewable energy standpoint, the biggest concern raised during Bluewind's presentation last week was the visibility of the massive windmills from the shore and their impact on the landscape.
Visibility was the top concern amongst Mayor and City Council members this week, as they heard the latest updates on the potential offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City. Bluewater Wind came before the Mayor and Council this week in an effort to keep the community updated on the potential offshore wind park, one they hope will come to fruition no later than 2013. ...Council member Jim Hall questioned the stability of residents' energy bills, pointing out that only 10 percent of energy bills would be affected by wind energy. "We would still have 90 percent, at least, of fluctuation in our bills," he said.
"We don't want to see them. Standing on the beach, we don't want to see them," he said during the council's work session Tuesday afternoon. Councilman Jim Hall echoed the mayor's sentiment, saying the project could prove far more popular if the turbines were invisible from land. "If you can't see it," Hall said, "then you can add acres and acres of wind farms. I think people are going to eat it up." For Bluewater, it's an expensive courtesy. Lanard said pushing the turbines farther out to sea makes it more expensive. It costs $1,000 for every foot of cable connecting the wind farm to the shore.
So many people have flooded the Maryland Department of Natural Resources with emails, calls and letters about a proposal to build wind turbines in state forests that the agency has been forced to find a larger venue for its public hearing. "We've had a lot of interest expressed, so we changed the date," said Olivia Campbell, spokeswoman for the state wildlife agency. "We are making it easier for the public to participate. We realize a lot of people have passion on both sides." ...Some people have expressed strong opposition to the idea of letting developers rip up state forests and build tall industrial machines. Others strongly support the idea of using state property to generate clean, pollution-free electricity.