A group of landowners on the Delmarva Peninsula says bringing a power line from the Atlantic Wind Connection on shore at Assateague Island would have a “catastrophic environmental effect,” even if the line is buried.
“Other than park ranger stations and infrastructure, Assateague Island is an undeveloped, pristine area,” the attorney who represents the landowners, Hugh Cropper IV, said. “There’s nothing there.”
“We think it would be incredibly detrimental to run any kind of power line over, under, or across those properties, particularly when the city of Ocean City [Md.,], to the north, is where the wind farm is going to be located and we know there’s infrastructure in place,” he said.
According to the developer, the protest is premature.
“We’re not even close to a decision about where the line will land,” a spokesperson for Atlantic Wind said, noting that they’re still focused on the first phase of the project, “which is getting through the initial Interior Department process, and getting participation with some of the states.”
In an Aug. 16 letter to the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, the company said, “[E]xploring Assateague as an option is a necessary step in the evaluation process,” but added, “it is not our intention to make landfall there.”
While he understands a federal statute requires the company to explore options, Cropper said, “It doesn’t say you have to consider every option from Maine to Florida; it says you have to consider alternatives.”
“It leaves me scratching my head as to why they have to consider going across a national seashore as an alternative,” he added.
Atlantic Wind officials have previously stated that the company would prefer to bring the transmission line ashore in or near Ocean City, which Cropper said makes sense.
“We’ve already got utilities going under the dunes out to the ocean, and then you’ve got the area of the Ocean City inlet that’s full of all kinds of utilities,” he said. “There’s a big power substation there, there are rights-of-way, so there are lots of alternatives … including going to Indian River [Del.], where there’s a major connection to the Northeast power grid.”
While those options are under consideration, the developer’s spokesperson said, “There’s still a long road to go before anything like [the Assateague Island landing] would ever even be considered … so for [people] to be already protesting, it’s way too early or preliminary to know what the plan is.”
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