The Ocean City Mayor and Council was well within its right to draft a resolution, which was really just a statement for the record, in opposition to the wind turbine project as currently planned.
The problem is it’s too late to matter. The issue is now far beyond local control. It was probably never within the municipality’s power to influence the wind farm project to the degree it would like, but it certainly is not at this point in the process.
Permits are being issued. Jobs are being lined up. Funding is being secured. Areas of the ocean have been mapped. While all this is true, there’s still plenty to figure out. In fact, we learned this week the situation is more fluid than it should be, as the size of the allowable wind turbines appears to be a matter of discussion currently in the Maryland General Assembly.
Ocean City officials made it clear this week they are not opposed to the wind farm. They support alternative energy sources, but it’s the distance and visual from the shore they are concerned about. That’s been the concern all along at City Hall. Officials have weighed in with their view concerns as long ago as 2004.
Although the humidity and air quality will make them difficult to see in the summer months, it does appear the wind turbines furthest west will be noticeable from the beach on many days. That’s a nonstarter for Ocean City and the concerns are valid.
“This is a big project that will be there for many years and we only get one chance to get it right,” Mayor Rick Meehan said. “Let’s not build something we will come to regret. We don’t want people to walk out on the beach to look at the sunrise and see what will appear to be an industrial landscape. That’s been our position all along.”
This is a fine and understandable opinion to adopt. Ocean City needs to protect all the jewels in its crown. Surely, the visual of the ocean from the beach is among the most important.
A variety of studies have been conducted on the tourism and economic impact of wind turbines on coastal areas across the country and world. With the results mixed, the fact is it’s unknown at this point whether the sight of wind turbines on the horizon will be a negative to Ocean City.
It’s Ocean City’s view that it’s a risk not worth taking when moving the wind turbines further east would alleviate their concerns.
It’s a logical position.