OC SUPPORTS GREEN & UNSEEN WIND FARMS
Save Our Sunrise
The proposed wind farms off the coast of Ocean City will be visible from our beachfront – impacting all residents, property owners and visitors. If the current proposal is approved, our natural viewshed is in danger of being destroyed and lost forever.
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For several years, Ocean City has worked diligently to ensure the proposed construction of wind turbines off our shoreline is done responsibly. Unfortunately, as the size of the proposed wind turbines continues to grow, the foreign-owned companies developing the projects further attempt to push these giant structures closer and closer to our beach.
Ocean City’s concerns over how these structures, now three and half times taller than the tallest building in Ocean City, will destroy our beautiful ocean views have been ignored. Last January, at the request of the Mayor and Council, the Maryland Public Service Commission held a public hearing at the Ocean City Convention Center. This was the first time that any of the government agencies in charge of regulating these projects held a public hearing within our city limits. Thanks to the hundreds of Ocean City residents and property owners who came to that meeting to express their concerns about these projects, the Public Service Commission directed each developer to return for an evidentiary hearing on the impacts of the proposed larger wind turbines.
In May of 2020, the first evidentiary hearing was held for the Skipjack Wind Project, located in Delaware but subsidized by Maryland ratepayers and visible from Ocean City. Although Ocean City’s ultimate goal of “unseen” turbines was not achieved, the developer did agree to move the project from 19 miles offshore to 22 miles offshore and reduce the number of turbines from 15 to 10-12.
Of much greater concern to Ocean City is the US Wind project. This project is located directly off our coast stretching the full length of Ocean City. Previously, US Wind had publicly stated that their closest turbines would be 17 miles offshore. We know now that US Wind plans to install turbines much closer than that, as close as 13 miles, and they too are planning to use the supersized 853-foot tall turbines. US Wind has not yet gone before the Maryland Public Service Commission to request to use these huge wind turbines. If and when they do, Ocean City will strongly oppose their placement so close to shore.
There is a simple solution to this problem which would allow the development of clean offshore wind energy for Maryland without destroying our beautiful ocean views. The solution is for the turbines to be moved farther east.
The location of these projects is determined by the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) through a leasing process. Right now only one lease area exists off the coast of Maryland. It starts less than 13 miles from Ocean City and extends out to approximately 21 miles from our shore. A new federal lease area could easily be established further offshore. Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks both have lease areas starting 25 miles offshore, and Virginia Beach already has two turbines located 27 miles from shore. There is no reason that a Maryland project could not be moved out just as far.
Not only would a different offshore lease area benefit Ocean City, but it would also significantly improve the safety of offshore marine traffic by moving the lease area away from vital shipping and barge lanes. More importantly, it would move the project out of the Shuster Horseshoe Crab Sanctuary. This sanctuary was established to protect the spawning grounds of the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab.
Why is the lowly horseshoe crab so important? As you may have recently read and seen on the news, the blood from the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab is used to test the safety of vaccines. The Shuster sanctuary is considered so vital that no one is allowed to catch a horseshoe crab in that area. Yet not a single study has looked at the impact of offshore wind turbines or their high voltage cables on the horseshoe crab.
Ocean City believes in clean energy. Over 50 percent of the Ocean City government’s electric supply comes from renewable sources. However, we also believe, like any other gigantic construction project, the development of renewable energy must be done responsibly. Simply calling something “green” does not make it so.
Once these projects are built, it will be too late to change them. Please call, email, or write to your state or federal elected officials and ask them to support the creation of a new Maryland offshore renewable energy lease area at least 30 miles from shore. We have one chance to get this right and now is the time to do it.
With the possibility of an offshore wind farm obstructing Ocean City’s natural Atlantic view, resort officials are working consistently to make sure the quest for alternate energy does not impact the horizon that residents and property owners’ treasure. Currently, two companies are seeking permission to install wind turbines in the ocean directly off the Ocean City coastline. The proposal includes a total of 139 turbines, which stand 600 to 800 feet tall, located as close as 13 miles from the Ocean City shoreline. Photographic renderings show that these structures will be clearly visible from the beach and more visible from higher story buildings.
The Ocean City Mayor and City Council have openly supported clean energy, including offshore wind, however; have expressed serious concern for these projects to be done in a responsible manner. “With the construction of 139 windmills off Ocean City’s coast, each structure more than twice the height of the tallest building in Ocean City and blades the length of a football field, there is no questions they will be visible from our shoreline especially when they are lit up at night,” stated Mayor Rick Meehan. “It is a threat to our environment, our property values, our economy, and the future of Ocean City. It is simply irresponsible.”
The Town of Ocean City is asking that these projects be moved further offshore in order to keep the pristine ocean view that residents and visitors know and love. There is no questions that this is feasible, as wind farms proposed in Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks are all located more than 25 miles of the coast. The companies developing the Ocean City, Maryland project are opposing the town’s efforts to move the wind farms because it will increase their costs and could delay construction.
“We understand the time and money that is potentially involved in moving the wind farms, but those concerns do not justify placing Ocean City’s future at risk,” Meehan continued. “These turbines are permanent installations. We only have one chance to make this right and if that means the projects get delayed or the developers make a little less profit, it will be money and time well spent to protect our Town.”
REACH OUT TO YOUR US SENATORS, CONGRESSMEN AND STATE DELEGATES
If you share our concerns regarding the impact of these projects, please contact your State and Federal elected officials and let them know that you oppose the construction of offshore wind farms that are visible from Ocean City.