OCEAN CITY, Md.- A standing room only crowd descended in Ocean City to hear and be heard on the issue of wind power off the coasts of Maryland and Delaware. The Ocean City Fire Department estimates there were 1,850 people in attendance.
This past fall, the two companies hoping to build the wind farms increased the size of the turbines used to generate power to over 850 feet. Ocean City’s mayor, Rick Meehan, is adamantly opposed to the increased size, fearing it would be unsightly from the coast. Meehan suggests that would hurt tourism, the town’s primary economic driver, and potentially decrease homeowners’ property values.
U.S. Wind, the company that would manage the wind farm, says larger turbines would require fewer of them, farther off shore, thus minimizing their impact. Meehan and Andy Harris, U.S, Representative for the eastern shore, are dubious of that claim.
Saturday, the Maryland Public Service Commission held the public hearing at the convention center to hear from both sides. Meehan says he is not opposed to clean energy, or the project itself; it is simply the size of the turbines, and their proximity to the shore that are troubling.
“We support the new jobs this project would create, and we support the economic benefits, and we support everything related to these projects. The only thing we ask is that these projects be moved further from our shoreline and out of our viewshed here in Ocean City,” said Meehan.
U.S. Wind and the town of Ocean City have offered differing renderings of how the larger turbines would look from the shore, with the town’s view showing them much closer, and U.S. Wind’s picture making them barely perceptible.
As many as 100 people spoke at the hearing, offering differing views.
“I think it is important that we realize we are facing a climate emergency, which certainly supersedes anything having to do with a view of a windmill or not,” said one pro-wind farm advocate.
“I recommend you make adjustments to these requests and require the turbines be further out. We do not want to see the turbines,” said a person against the project.
Orsted, the company looking to build a wind farm, Skipjack, off the Delaware coast, was also represented today. Orsted is also proposing using the larger turbines.
Still be determined is where the power would come on shore.
Meehan’s goal for the hearing is to have the Maryland PSC hold an evidenciary hearing regarding the turbine size and distance from the shore. A decision on that will come at a later date.
A federal agency will ultimately decide if and when the wind farms would be built.