Offshore wind can’t come at the expense of tourism, and there’s no question more people would be turned off by the sight of hundreds of wind turbines off the coast than find it appealing.
On the surface, it may seem narrow minded of the Ocean City Mayor and Council to frown on the plan proposed last week by US Wind Inc. simply because of the visual. However, that would ironically be a shortsighted stance.
The beach is the No. 1 asset Ocean City has to offer. Without a clean and safe beach and world-class ocean views — as is the case currently — there is no tourism. Sure, there are other reasons to come to Ocean City, such as fishing, special events, golfing, dining, the amusements, the Boardwalk and partying, but the beach is the brightest and most critical jewel in the town’s proverbial crown.
Anything that officials view as potentially jeopardizing that should be taken seriously. No risk should be taken to harm our most important amenity, even if it comes with tremendous upside for the environment over the long term.
Ocean City’s elected officials have several critical goals listed in their strategic plan. First and foremost is a “1st Class Resort and Tourist Destination.” That should always be the top goal because everything in the local community revolves around that being a reality.
The good news is US Wind Inc. recognizes and respects the town’s opposition to the visuals created by the wind farm as presented last week. Within a week of hearing the town’s concerns, the company offered to move the first line of wind turbines further offshore by five miles. That’s a move that will reportedly reduce the sight from the shore by 35%. Whether that equates to a thumbnail size — as was initially stated as Ocean city’s view years ago — is unclear. Therefore, due to its concern about disrupting the view from the resort, the Town of Ocean City went forward with its letter of opposition to the Maryland Public Service Commission about the proposed plan from US Wind. The other company will soon have its chance to submit its wind farm plans — expected to be smaller in scale — to the Mayor and Council.
The offshore wind farm remains a fluid situation and the good news is the town has a significant voice in the process. That’s appropriate considering the major impact it will have on the resort area.
There are many unknowns in this offshore wind process, not the least of which how and where the infrastructure will come ashore. As these details come forward, protecting the pristine and traditional views from Ocean City’s shoreline should remain the priority.
Call that position whatever you like, but it’s the correct priority to have for Ocean City officials.