BETHANY BEACH – NRG Bluewater, the company that wants to build underground power lines for a proposed wind farm off the coast, has agreed to fund up to $85,000 of independent research on the effects of the construction.
The Town Council has not yet voted on whether to conduct the research, and doesn’t anticipate doing so until this fall, after another public hearing has been held on the issue.
Residents are largely opposed to the construction, and many have asked the council to reject the proposal outright instead of researching the possible environmental and human effects.
At a recent Town Council meeting, after numerous residents publicly voiced their opposition of a power line, Mayor Tony McClenny asked if anyone would like to speak in favor of the proposal.
The crowd erupted in laughter.
“I’m curious as to why the council is even considering this,” said Norbert Kraich, who lives on Wellington Parkway, the proposed route of the power line. “I don’t believe it should be sent through the town anywhere.”
NRG chose Bethany Beach as its desired location after the homeowners association of Middlesex Beach rejected a similar proposal to run the line under their community.
“If a power line is unsafe for Wellington Parkway, it’s unsafe for all of Bethany,” said Councilman Lew Killmer.
Killmer said the council is looking into the research to avoid potential litigation if it rejects the proposal.
One resident, Denise Boswell, said she took a survey of residents surrounding Kent Avenue and 35 of the respondents opposed the power line, while three were in favor.
Residents have expressed concern about the construction for a multitude of reasons, such as the potential drop in property values, health and safety effects from electromagnetic radiation and stray voltage and traffic concerns about the construction.
Kraich, incredulous as to the motivation behind deliberating the proposal, asked the council if there were any monetary advantages for the town if the power line was to be constructed. McClenny said there were none “at this time,” but that advantages could develop in the future.
The memorandum of understanding that was reached between the council and NRG was originally requested by the council in April. According to officials, the cost for any impact study has not yet been determined.
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