The following was addressed to Gov. Phil Murphy.
Dear Gov. Murphy:
I am a resident of LBI and a registered professional engineer. My career has been devoted to the evaluation and implementation of renewable energy projects. I have written this letter because I am concerned about the significant visual impacts and the potential for negative effects on tourism, the local economy, the fishing industry and the environment resulting from the offshore wind complex proposed by Atlantic Shores.
Times have changed since the site was leased to Atlantic Shores just five years ago. Wind turbines are much larger and taller, more visible and can be constructed in deeper water. Visual impacts have gained recognition as a major concern regarding wind energy development. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management just last month withdrew two wind energy areas (WEAs) off Long Island, partially due to their closeness to the shore and related visual impacts. The two areas withdrawn were 15 miles offshore.
The Atlantic Shores project off LBI is just 9 to 10 miles offshore. If we apply the same minimum distance criteria in New Jersey as New York state does (20 miles, as reported in the New York Offshore Wind Master Plan), that would eliminate or severely restrict the Atlantic Shores site. Since that policy was put in place, the BOEM has set a minimum limit of 17.3 miles for the New York Bight WEAs.
By this New York example, a state can influence federal decision making. I urge you to have the state conduct the necessary studies to recognize the changes in offshore wind development and to put in place policy to establish an exclusion zone for New Jersey protective of affected communities.
The visual impacts from the Atlantic Shores project would create an industrial setting, a wall of several hundred turbines readily visible from the beaches in Barnegat Light to Holgate. The project would put the Jersey Shore, not only LBI, at risk. Our view, as many have said here, is akin to that of the Grand Canyon: unobstructed and beautiful. There are not many places in New Jersey where the natural resources are so significant, drawing millions each year to visit.
When considering visual impacts, New York in its Offshore Wind Master Plan stated that “the State set a minimum distance of 20 miles for the Area of Consideration in order to ensure that, for the vast majority of the time, turbines would have no discernible or visible impact for a casual viewer on the shore.” The Visibility Threshold Study (NYSERDA Report 17-25s, December 2017, which was the basis for the master plan threshold) focused on smaller turbines (8 megawatts) as compared to the 12MW turbines likely for the projects off New Jersey.
Twenty miles, as a minimum standard, is not likely far enough offshore for the proposed Atlantic Shores project with these larger turbines. Let’s do the studies and put in place an exclusion zone to protect the Jersey Shore, further allowing the state to effectively influence federal decisions. Perhaps that can best be done by an update to the state’s energy master plan.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding