Forces are quickly aligning in Maryland to build large industrial power generation projects within eyesight off the coast of Ocean City. Much of the conversation over the location and size of these projects has happened without Ocean City’s direct participation.
However, this pending decision weighs heavily on me, as a fifth-generation Eastern Shoreman. It will permanently change what we see, and what we expect to see, when sitting on Maryland’s world-class beach.
The project was born from then-Gov. Martin O’Malley’s failed launch of a presidential campaign with offshore wind central to his campaign platform. This impractical political stunt is being resurrected by forcing Maryland rate-payers and taxpayers to subsidize the construction and maintenance of more than 100 wind turbines.
Only after the full investment by the citizens of this state will the energy generated from this project then be sent north through Delaware and into New York and New Jersey for distribution.
This is not responsible tax-and-spend policy for Maryland.
The size of these proposed wind turbine projects also ignore the rapid advancement of future technologies. A new generation of smaller and safer turbines are now being tested. These turbines will also be designed for better performance in hurricane-impacted areas.
Also, current best practices in clean energy are increasingly focused on energy storage, not large-scale production. This will be accomplished through innovative battery and micro grid technologies. These advancements will quickly render the current turbine designs obsolete.
Unlike large solar projects that can be removed when their useful lifespan expires, these 600-foot metal structures will remain forever.
Ocean City and its waters are a destination and migratory route for mammals, birds and fish. The physical toll on birds flying through a turbine field is well known.
The extreme adverse consequences of a droning turbine to all wildlife needs to be better understood by science. All future negative environmental impact must be clearly determined. This is as important for the benefit of our environment and wildlife as it is for Maryland’s economy.
One of the major benefits of having such a large project located near the Eastern Shore is the promise of jobs and economic opportunity for a region that sorely needs a jumpstart. Provided we can keep these jobs truly local to Eastern Shore counties, I agree and have supported the advantage this opportunity provides.
But advocates for offshore wind should also understand the importance Ocean City plays in economic development for the state. With more than $8 billion in taxable base, Maryland simply cannot have permanent projects desecrating the viewscape for property owners and visitors who come to Ocean City for the sand, saltwater and vista.
Truth is, we only get one chance to get this right. I think it is debatable that offshore wind is a cost-effective means for delivering safe and clean energy.
However, we can all agree as currently proposed, these offshore wind projects will forever change the view and skyline of the magnificent beaches of Ocean City for generations to come.
The topic of offshore wind will be a major chance for collaboration among stakeholders during the 2018 legislative session in Annapolis.
All Marylanders are stakeholders in the beauty and recreation that Ocean City provides. We can take the time to do our due diligence.
This is a decision that will leave a lasting and permanent legacy for our home. I believe we have the political will to get this right and look forward to participating in this process as it unfolds.
Christopher T. Adams represents District 37B in the Maryland House of Delegates.
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