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Citing socio-economic/cultural, environmental and safety concerns, Surf City Councilman Peter Hartney penned the borough’s objections to the proposed Atlantic Shores Wind Farm to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management while also providing comment on the environmental impact statement for the Ocean Wind project.
“Each of these categories are areas of concern in both the short and long term,” he wrote in his April 27 letter.
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind is poised to build the second wind farm in the state, in part off the coast of Long Beach Island. The closest western, or in-shore, boundary of the lease site is 10 miles from Barnegat Light and 9 miles from Holgate. The lease area has the potential to generate 3 gigawatts of offshore wind energy. Atlantic Shores plans to start onshore construction of substations in 2024 and offshore construction by 2025.
The project is a 50-50 partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America. It was formed in December 2018 to co-develop nearly 183,353 acres of leased sea area on the Outer Continental Shelf, located within the New Jersey Wind Energy Area.
Just south of the proposed Atlantic Shores wind farm is the Ocean Wind project, owned and developed by Ørsted with the support of PSEG. That wind farm is expected to be operational in 2024 and would produce enough electricity to power more than 500,000 homes, according to the Ørsted website.
Part of the socio-economic concern includes a proposed wind farm as close as 9 miles to the Island, the turbine height of 850 feet, and a total of 250 turbines approximately, according to Hartney’s letter. He also cited the industrialization of the immediate offshore area and the negative impact on the $41 billion-a-year tourism industry.
“Commercial fishing is already constrained by quotas, etc., and the economic impact of proposed projects has not been fully studied and has, to date, only been presented by Atlantic Shores as having no impact on the industry upon completion of the project without consideration for the decades of impact the construction phase of the projects will have on the commercial fishing industry,” he wrote in the missive.
He also said the proposed area is near or adjacent to clam fishing grounds, which sustain more than a third of clams for the soup and chowder industry.
“There is a strong, unexamined impact to the cultural fabric of LBI and the entire Jersey Shore as the fishing industry has been part of the cultural fabric of the region since time immemorial,” Hartney wrote. “Thus, the detrimental economic impacts these projects would cause to the fishing industry will have significant negative ramifications for the local culture – with the loss of the fishing industry comes a loss of cultural identify and livelihood.”
In addressing environmental concerns, he noted LBI would be impacted by both the proposed Atlantic Shores project and the Ocean Wind transmission lines, which are expected to run the length of the Island before tying into the electrical grid at the defunct Oyster Creek Generating Station.
“When taken in combination, (it) will transmit more electric energy onshore than any previous project. Thus, the impact of the electromagnetic fields from electric transmission lines impact on marine life needs to be well studied,” Hartney wrote, saying the best conclusion is that more information is needed.
Additional environmental concerns include the disturbance of sea flood due to construction – especially the impact on benthic life in the region, he said. Hartney also noted adequate studies on the effect to the Atlantic right whale, gray seal, dolphin and migratory birds have not been examined.
Lastly, Hartney said aging turbines and decommissioning of the structures as it pertains to future impact on the environment have not been discussed, “including the manner in which Atlantic Shores and Ocean Wind proposed to address the issue.”
Safety concerns include the ability of the Coast Guard to carry out a rescue in the area of a wind farm, the impact to the flight pattern from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, and the depth and safety of transmission lines, according to Hartney. He added transmission lines for Block Island, in Rhode Island, have already needed to be reburied.
“(We) respectfully request that rather than rushing to approval and construction under cover provided by the blanket of COVID-19 restrictions that the approval process be slow, so in-depth critical study of the concerns of all impacted by the proposed projects be understood for the benefit of all, not simply big energy,” he concluded.
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