OCEAN CITY, Md. – Offshore wind is still a big topic for Ocean City, but with a new wind speed monitor coming within the next few weeks it’s become a focal point again.
U.S. Wind is still obtaining federal approvals for a 32 turbine wind farm off Ocean City’s beaches. While it’s proposed that the project would be at least 17 miles offshore, Mayor Rick Meehan is worried it could be closer.
Meehan says the company is permitted to build within a leased area that could be as close as 13 miles off the coast.
“They can place wind turbines in that entire area, that’s what they’re permitted for. The turbines will be built in phases and what they’re reporting is that turbines will be 17 miles offshore, but that’s the first phase,” Meehan said.
Meehan says the town supports green, clean energy, but it should not disrupt visitors view of the Atlantic. He believes even 17 miles offshore that the panoramic view would be destroyed.
“One of our biggest concens is if it was built today exactly as it’s planned, someone is going to look at us and say how did you ever let that happen?” Meehan said.
But Wicomico County Delegate Carl Anderton has been a longtime supporter of the project, because of the jobs it will bring to Delmarva. Anderton says the human eye cannot see 17 miles offshore.
“How low can we get your electric bill? How efficient can we be? And how many people can we put to work?” Anderton said. “I support anything that is going to put people to work, I think that’s the bottom line.”
Meehan says the latest additions he has seen from the U.S. Winds project is what has him concerned. Not only could the company build closer, if they chose to, but the size of the turbines could also increase.
“These turbines have grown from 250 feet, 350 feet to approximately 850 feet,” Meehan said.
But Congressman Andy Harris does not think the company will be granted the necessary federal permits to build anytime soon.
In a statement to WBOC the congressman said:
“If and when they are built, the large array of wind turbines visible from our coast will have far reaching and long lasting consequences. Not only will they sully the pristine view from Ocean City, negatively affecting tourism, recreational and commercial fishing, as well as local property values in the largest economy on the shore, they also pose significant environmental, navigational and national security risks. I am very concerned that the construction of this large wind project, by a foreign company no less, will have long lasting negative effects on the economy and the residents of the First Congressional District.”
According to U.S. Wind’s website, the wind farm is expected to go online by 2021 in Ocean City. Meehan is hoping that deadline gets pushed back to allow for further evaluation and public input.
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