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New wind turbines deserve a close look

In response to Shawn Soper’s article “World’s Largest Offshore Wind Turbine Now Planned Off Ocean City,” I thought I would take the time to make Ocean City residents aware of some of the issues with offshore wind, and these newly announced turbines in particular.

As an Ocean City business person, as with most business owners, my economic and personal life centers around established Ocean City industries – tourism and local fishing. Earlier this year, the Ocean City Hotel-Motel-Restaurant Association sent a letter to the Department of the Interior opposing offshore wind development off the Maryland coast, stating “[s]ince our founding in 1875, our coastal community has relied on fishing and tourism to sustain our economy”. Now, our pristine waters that draw thousands each year are at risk from industrialization and construction, our views destroyed, our ocean marine life threated by underwater electromagnetic fields, low frequency noise, vibration, and navigational hazards, and other threats. The costs of offshore wind are unbelievably high, and the Department of Energy has listed offshore wind as the most expensive levelized cost of potential electricity in the country, at more than double that of natural gas.

If local hotels and restaurants and businesses, never mind the average household, are forced to pay twice the current amount for electric, can they survive? Even in Rhode Island, the “nation’s first offshore wind farm” off Block Island, rather than lowering electric rates on the island as wind farm proponents claimed it would because its electric was previously run off diesel generators, the town has now had to vote in favor of turning back on the diesel generators during peak usage to save 8% on ratepayers’ electric bills. Meanwhile, if we are to look to Block Island as an example, both massive underwater wind farm electric cables have been exposed at local beaches where people are swimming since 2018, and won’t be reburied until 2021. Is this what we want for our area?

The new turbines chosen by Danish offshore wind developer Orsted for the Skipjack project off Maryland’s coast, the Haliade X-12 MW turbines, are 853 feet tall, the height of a skyscraper, with blade rotor width as wide as the Golden Gate Bridge is high. The blade sweep area is equivalent to seven football fields. Is this what we want to see from our shores? These moving blades cause radar interference for fishing vessels and other boats; just earlier this year an offshore wind farm service boat overseas crashed into a windmill because boat radars don’t work inside a wind farm. Is this what we want in the way of the White Marlin Open every year? Is this what we want in the way of all the tub/barge/transport vessels off our shores? One oil spill caused from a crash would cripple our beach town tourism.

The claim that these offshore wind farms will create American jobs isn’t looking to pan out that way either. Instead, from what I can tell looking at what is going on here and in other places, all the jobs will be in Europe. The Haliade X will be built in France. Other offshore wind projects in the Atlantic have contracted with Dutch companies who own Panamanian vessels to install all their turbines and with Italians to build all the wind farm underwater cables. My guess is that it’s cheaper than American labor, and that we don’t have the equipment to do it, which means it will all come from overseas.

Never mind the military capability interference. Just last year the DOD gave a mission compatibility report that showed nearly the whole East Coast as a “wind farm exclusion zone” including the Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey leases. It specifically highlighted problems with wind turbines higher than 800 feet because of interference with military training. So why are these leases proceeding at all, much less with 853-foot structures? Meanwhile, for the past couple years, China has had a port in the Bahamas so that it can “actively” provide military assistance to the Bahamas, and now is being called upon to rebuild the island after Dorian. Why would we be wanting to compromise our East Coast defense system if that is the case? None of it makes sense.

In my opinion, Ocean City is doing very well, and I would like to keep it that way. We have established jobs, businesses and industries that have been around a long time and will hopefully be around even longer. I for one am not supportive of putting all of that in jeopardy, never mind my safety and security, for a foreign wind company that will create foreign jobs at the expense of American jobs.

Please consider contacting your government representatives and plead for NO off shore windmills.

John Fager