The letter “Go Slow with Wind” (3/31) makes several good points. In particular, residents of LBI were never asked if we wanted a wind farm off our coast. The development of wind farms as a renewable energy source has been imposed on us at a federal and state level by the last several administrations.
But there is a venue for public input. See the same issue of The SandPaper describing the 30-day period when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will accept public input for the creation of the impact statement that the Ocean Wind project is required to present. This is an opportunity to alter the course of the project if it is used in a coordinated and effective manner.
It is true that in 2006 a state committee did recommend that an experimental 350-megawatt offshore wind farm be built. That was never done. However, in the last 15 years the industry has gone from a total installed capacity of 525 MW to 35,000 MW today. What may have been a prudent recommendation in 2006 has been overtaken by technology and events. And of that worldwide 35,000 MW offshore wind capacity, only 30 MW is located in the U.S. We are going slow.
Where the turbines will be built is a very interesting question and one that may have a big impact on New Jersey, shore areas in particular. It is correct that the technology is being developed in Europe. However, the turbine structures are enormous. The turbine components are so large that even ship transportation is problematic. For instance, the turbine blades are about 300 feet long and are made in one piece.
The support monopoles and seabed structures are also spectacularly big. The technology mandates local manufacturing. Transportation from the factory to the wind farm is done by specialty ships. As far as I know, there is no announced decision as to where GE and Ørsted will build the needed factories. The old Philadelphia Navy Yard has the infrastructure for the needed transportation and assembly facilities. The 30-day period for public comment may provide information and an opportunity to influence the location of the needed land-side infrastructures.
Another issue that should be of concern to LBI residents is: Where will the hundreds of wind farm construction workers be housed, fed and entertained? And, who will be responsible for providing the housing and support facilities like docks and heliports? Will LBI be a permanent home of wind farm maintenance and operations facilities?
These are areas where the interests of local residents and businesses should have priority over federal and state interests. We should be working together to effectively influence the process to protect local interests, including making the turbines less visible.
Frank J. Smith
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