Thursday, July 17 – City Council Concerned About Seeing Wind Turbines

OCEAN CITY – Visibility was the top concern amongst Mayor and City Council members this week, as they heard the latest updates on the potential offshore wind farm off the coast of Ocean City.

Bluewater Wind came before the Mayor and Council this week in an effort to keep the community updated on the potential offshore wind park, one they hope will come to fruition no later than 2013.

“I really believe that it’s time to support projects like this. We need to take a good hard look at renewable energies and offshore wind parks,” said Dave Blazer of Bluewater.

Bluewater recently inked a deal with Delmarva Power in Delaware to build a wind farm 11.5 miles off the Delaware coast. It will be the first of its kind in the United States for Bluewater, but the wind energy company is no stranger to offshore wind farms, which have been working effectively in parts of Europe since 1991.

“In the beginning, Delmarva Power was a reluctant partner at the table…but after a while we found a common ground,” said Jim Lanard with Bluewater.

The end result will be 60 to 70 wind turbines off the Delaware coast that will bring energy to 50,000 households in Delaware.

Bluewater aims to start building the Delaware wind park in 2012. Maryland could follow en suite, with construction beginning in 2013 if all goes as planned for Bluewater.

While the Mayor and Council did not argue the merits of alternate energy sources, concerns arose regarding visibility.

“Obviously, one of the biggest concerns is the visual impact on Ocean City,” said Council member Nancy Howard.

Lanard assured that the turbines, 256 feet in height above sea level, would only appear to be half the size of a thumbnail and as thin as a toothpick from shore, with visibility minimal at best on the clearest winter day.

“Visibility and birds are the two primary concerns that people have,” said Lanard.

“I’m stimulated by your ideas, but I don’t want to see them either,” said Hall.

According to Lanard, 12 miles is as far as they can place the turbines. Cables connecting the turbines to a substation on shore are costly, running roughly $1,000 per foot.

Pictures depicting what the view of the wind farm would look like from the beaches of Ocean City were presented to the council on Tuesday, with images generated from a variety of viewpoints and for a variety of weather conditions.

Council member Jay Hancock, who had a chance to review the photos, did not see a visual threat to Ocean City.

“What you can see is it’s not a visual impact at all, in my opinion. The potential that builds into wind power is just remarkable,” he said.

“I think the wind power is well overdue. It should have been done a long time ago,” agreed Council member Lloyd Martin.

Martin suggested that anyone harboring concerns about visibility take a boat 12 miles offshore and look back at the resort high rises for a better idea of visibility from that distance.

Council member Mary Knight noted the benefits of the artificial reef that the turbines will create.

“In my mind, besides renewable energy, you’re creating some great fishing 12 miles offshore,” she said.

Both Blazer and Lanard noted that Bluewater is currently in the very early stages of planning and negotiating for the Maryland off shore wind Park, but promised to keep the community well informed and educated on the potential wind park.

For the complete story, and dozens of others, see The Dispatch tomorrow morning.