Library filed under Impact on Views from Maryland
OCEAN CITY — Independent stakeholders in one of two offshore wind projects appear to have little concern with the significantly larger turbines selected, according to briefs filed with the Maryland Public Service Commission following a hearing last month.
The testimony of Robert Scott that is accessible from this page describes the possible visual impacts of the Skipjack offshore wind energy facility proposed for off the coast of Maryland. The developers of the Skipjack facility are proposing to use the Haliade-X1 twelve-megawatt turbines. According to Mr. Sullivan, the Haliade-X turbines are 70% larger than the turbines that were originally proposed for the site and for which a permit was granted. The turbines will be visible to the unaided eye at distances greater than 36 statute miles, with turbine blade movement visible up to 29 statute miles, and often visible at 24 statute miles. Mr. Sullivan's testimony was provided to the Maryland PSC on behalf of Ocean City, MD. Mr. Sullivan's full testimony can be downloaded by clicking on the document links on this page.
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan called on the PSC to hold more evidentiary hearings to better understand the impact larger wind turbines would have on the town. U.S. Congressman Andy Harris, R-Md.-1 pointed out that nothing stops U.S. Wind from possibly building 12-megawatt wind turbines as close as 10 miles from shore. Harris went on to criticize the wind developers' decision to use larger wind turbines saying, “I would suggest that this is one of the most amazing cases of bait and switch that I’ve ever seen."
A standing room only crowd descended in Ocean City to hear and be heard on the issue of wind power off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. The Ocean City Fire Department estimates there were 1,850 people in attendance.
On Saturday, hundreds of homeowners, residents, and Ocean City visitors packed into the Ocean City Convention Center to make their voices heard about 800-foot offshore wind turbines potentially being built along the resort town’s shoreline.
In a letter from the Mayor of Ocean City, Rick Meehan, to the Maryland Public Service Commission the Mayor highlights the objections to wind turbines built off the coast of the Ocean City and the visual impacts of the turbines. The letter states that "The Town of Ocean City while in support for clean energy in Maryland, has opposed the size and location of the wind turbines. As the size of the turbines has increased, so has our concern for the visual impact they will have on our community and our property values.” In response to the size of the windmills now being proposed, the letter further said, “In order to avoid the destruction of our natural view forever and the negative impact on our community, the Town of Ocean City is insisting these turbines be moved at least 33 miles from shore.” The Mayor's letter can be accessed by clicking the document links on this page.
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.
Plans to install the largest offshore wind turbines on the market off the coast of Maryland are running into challenges.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Construction on the 328-foot tall meteorological tower 14 miles off the coast is in full swing.
These wind turbines, standing at 643 feet with red lights atop each tower in the latest proposal would be visible from the beaches of Ocean City and Assateague Island National Seashore,” he said. “The wind turbines, as currently proposed, will reduce property values, jeopardize the safety of maritime travel and pose a threat to Ocean City’s commercial fishing and tourism industries.”
Asserting “our view is not for sale,” resort officials recently rejected an olive branch of sorts from US Wind that could have provided free electric power and other concessions to Ocean City in exchange for relaxing its opposition to the distance of the offshore wind turbines.
Ocean City officials ...have asked the Public Service Commission to reconsider the project because of what they call a major increase in the proposed turbines’ height, from 200 feet to about 370 feet. A commission spokeswoman said ... its chairman has the power to reconsider a project if it has been revised significantly.
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.”