Time For OC To Support Offshore Wind

 

Editor:

The new 2018 vacation season has shifted public focus to our favorite Atlantic coastal resort. However, a continuing puzzle to many lower Eastern Shore residents, as well as weekend and seasonal visitors, is the inexplicable refusal of Ocean City’s Mayor Meehan and Town Council to support clean-energy offshore wind turbines.

Neither of the stated reasons for this recalcitrance – that tiny white specks on the horizon 14 or 19.5 miles offshore may diminish future tourism, and presence of turbines could impair fishing – holds up in the light of day. Just consider: The Maryland Public Service Commission approved two applications for offshore wind (Deepwater Wind LLC and U. S. Wind) after several years of study and expert testimony. At a public hearing in Berlin, attended by nearly 100 members of the public, only three spoke in opposition.

Polling conducted by OpinionWorks in January 2018 shows 72% support in Worcester County building wind turbines off the coast.

The PSC ruling conditioned operating permits on the two developers creating at least 4,977 jobs.

Governor Hogan has declared Maryland “open for business.” Local Chambers of Commerce agree and are attempting to persuade Ocean City town fathers to come to their senses.  The Salisbury Chamber declared that “offshore wind is incredibly positive for Maryland.”

The local Business Network for Offshore Wind has called Ocean City’s policy “stubborn” and “misguided” and reaffirms that the offshore turbines will “create thousands of new jobs and attract hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Maryland’s economy.”

Regarding the alleged impact on coastal fisheries Dr. Bradley Stevens, professor of marine science at University of Maryland Eastern Shore, found that “the hard structures that form the bases for the turbines will be ideal locations for coral, mussels and other sea life to grow, which will attract and support large numbers of black bass … the most valuable living resources off Maryland’s coast.” He calls this a “win-win situation for both man and fish.”

These conclusions are no mere speculation. At the first American offshore wind project off Rhode Island (a project of Deepwater Wind, one of the two entrepreneurs with leases near Ocean City), the tourist council reports that tourism there increased significantly after that wind farm began operation. Also, sport fishermen are flocking to the area, and regard each turbine location a prime fishing spot. Finally, a company known as Fish World Charters has created an entirely new line of business — wind farm tours by boat for curious tourists.

This loss both of jobs and of clean energy — that is, long-term economic and environmental impact – will not be made up if this opportunity is lost. Perhaps our OC leaders might visit Europe where they will find wind farms far closer to shore, powering entire, cleaner cities, and growing, not harming, tourism and fisheries.

Mike Pretl

Mardela Springs

Letter to the Editor, Maryland Coast Dispatch:  https://mdcoastdispatch.com/2018/07/19/voices-from-the-readers-july-20-2018/