Library filed under Offshore Wind from Maryland
The meeting came at the request of Rick Meehan, Ocean City mayor, after U.S. Wind, the company looking to build the turbines greatly increased the height of the structures to 853 feet. Meehan is concerned the size will ruin the view of the ocean, consequently hurting tourism and property values.
After two month-long extensions, the state closed public comment Jan. 15 on Ørsted’s controversial proposal to connect the company’s offshore wind farm to the electrical grid by passing through Fenwick Island State Park. The connection project was revealed in late September. In return for being allowed to connect the wind farm, Ørsted has proposed $18 million of improvements at the state park.
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,
The proposed Skipjack Wind Turbine project planned for Fenwick Island should be rejected. The wind turbines will spoil the current pristine views from the Delaware shoreline. Since these 850-foot monstrosities will be built only 17 miles from the coast, a substantial — over 400 feet — portion will be visible from the beach.
“The massive increase in the turbine size would profoundly change the Ocean City viewscape and create serious economic, natural and environmental harm to Ocean City and the surrounding environs,” the petition reads. “No other party in this matter can adequately represent Ocean City’s interests or express the impact that the use of supersized turbines will have on its viewscape and economy. Ocean City can provide relevant and material information concerning issues relative to the proceeding.”
The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted Ocean City’s petition request to review the new proposed turbine sizes for two wind energy projects that were approved in 2017. The Commission determined that the new larger turbines – which are nearly double the size proposed two years ago – constitute material changes to the original applications.
In a written statement Thursday, Vitale said it's common for renewable energy projects to be delayed. Those delays, he said, could be for a number of reasons, most related to the permitting process. In this case, Vitale didn't provide a specific reason for the delay. "While originally we were hoping to achieve the OCD (Commercial Operation Date) by 2021, we must note that we are still well on track to complete the project in the timeframe imposed by the Maryland Public Service Commission of 2025," Vitale said.
It is uncertain what steps the PSC will take next, although the state agency does have the authority to rescind the original approvals or amend them. In an official filing outlining the re-opening of the public comment period, the PSC said filings earlier this fall made it clear both companies are moving toward the larger turbines. It’s important to note the PSC approval was based on the “best available technology” when the ORECs were awarded and in the years since, technological advances have significantly increased the size of the proposed turbines.
Two wind farms proposed off the coast of Ocean City, Md., are getting a second look from the state of Maryland. The Skipjack Wind Farm, led by Danish company Ørsted, and the MarWin Wind Farm by Baltimore-based U.S. Wind, a subsidiary of the Italian renewable energy company Renexia, are being reviewed in response to concerns raised by Ocean City officials about the farms' impact on tourism to the famous vacation spot.
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.
Last week, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) fired off a letter to the PSC urging the agency to reopen the cases awarding the ORECs to the two projects and reconsider the original approvals. The MEA letter, penned by MEA Director Mary Beth Tung, cites the significantly increasing size of the wind turbines for both projects as reason enough to revisit the original approvals.
A number of surveys, including one from the University of Delaware, indicate perhaps 15-to-35 percent of tourists will stop coming as the view degenerates as a result of the offshore wind turbines. The Delaware Tourism Office reported in 2016, tourism contributed roughly $3 billion to Delaware’s gross domestic product.
If it is approved, Orsted says the "Skipjack Wind Farm will be sited at least 19 miles from the Maryland-Delaware line and 26 miles from the Ocean City pier. ...if the wind farm is approved, Orsted plans to construct an interconnection facility on Fenwick Island State Park's bay side area, with wind turbines in the ocean.
One week after proposal to swap an area of the Fenwick Island State Park to the developer of one of Maryland’s two offshore wind projects for an onshore power station in exchange for millions of dollars in amenities at the otherwise quiet park, a coalition of homeowners has fired off a letter to state officials seeking to have the project derailed.
“I was a little caught off guard with this news about the significant increase, the 853-feet high turbines,” Sen. Corozza explained. “This has significantly increased from the original proposal.” While the focus on the criticism has largely been centered around tourism, commerical fishery is also of a concern, according to Sen. Corozza, who highlighted the concerns expressed by fisherman in her district who have appeared at several public forums with a host of questions regarding the project.
"Once you include the blade, that's well over 800 feet tall, that's almost 2-and-a-half times the height of the largest building in Ocean City, so these are significant structures that are going to be placed off our coastline," Meehan said.
“Now, we understand that the developers are proposing to install 12 megawatt towers approaching 500 feet in height,” the town’s letter to Hogan reads. “In order for a structure that large to be invisible from Ocean City, they would need to be located at least 33 miles from our coast. The visual impact and the associated negative affect on tourism, property values and the environment of these giant structures, now more than twice the height of the tallest high-rise in Ocean City and allowed within 10 miles of our shore cannot be understated.”
“With the introduction of 12 MW, it is going to be the biggest machine ever deployed — the most powerful machines in the world.” The new units are bigger in megawatts generated and capacity and rotor diameter, he said. The GE turbine has a rotor diameter of 220 meters (722 feet). Each blade is 107 meters (351 feet) long, sweeping a total area of 38.000 square meters (409,000 square feet), according to Ørsted.