Clean energy advocates might have cringed a little at Ocean City government’s opposition to offshore wind farms this week, but they would be missing a critical point.
It’s a simple point at that: why should local government support the development of anything that could, or even might, affect the resort’s well being without a clearly defined reason?
This isn’t about the benefits of wind energy, being green or any other benign color, but is strictly a matter of local government doing its job.
Despite assurances that windmills are tourist attractions in themselves, or that many jobs will be created, the mayor and council were asked to sign off on these proposals without any evidence that these potential benefits will exist.
They may, but then again, they may not, and then what’s Ocean City supposed to do, shrug and say, well, it sounded like a good idea at the time?
The problem with many grand plans – and these fall into that category – is that they are long on promises and short on incentives that could make potential neighbors more inclined to at least think about the possibilities.
Other than arguing that these wind farms would be good for the planet and reduce our dependence on foreign oil or domestic coal, there isn’t one thing in these proposals that Ocean City government can take to its constituents and its visitors and say, “Look, here’s what we stand to gain, so balance that out with what we stand to lose.”
In the scheme of things, wind energy is a viable product that might be less problematic than power plants running on fossil fuels, and chances are some of Ocean City’s elected officials will agree.
But the mayor and council weren’t elected to save the planet; they were elected to protect Ocean City’s tourist industry, which is all they were doing when they rejected this request for their support.
It’s not like the wind companies are saying, “support us, and we’ll see to it that your energy rates are half of what everyone on the mainland is paying.”
That would be a deal worth thinking about. But as for the assurances that all will be just fine? The mayor and council made the correct call.
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