Over the course of five hours, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) should have heard enough concerns to warrant further examination of the proposed offshore wind turbines, specially their significant changes in height.
The concept behind last week’s public hearing was to hear from the concerned citizens and government officials who requested a public hearing to relay concerns over the significant increase in wind turbine heights with both offshore project developers. After holding the hearing, which attracted about 800 people in Ocean City last Saturday, the PSC must now determine if an evidentiary hearing, a more formal proceeding, should be held for further review of the change in wind turbine height.
It’s important to note the PSC is a regulatory body and its discretion is limited. The PSC was, however, the body that granted the pivotal renewable credits credits to the two developers – Orsted and U.S. Wind. Even if an evidentiary hearing is granted before the PSC, it would be foolish to believe the projects are in jeopardy.
We believe these wind farm projects can be beneficial from economic and environmental standpoints, but we question the transparency and merits of the process at the federal and state levels. We support the call for more information on the specifics of the turbine heights before the projects can move into the next phases.
What we don’t necessarily agree with is the Town of Ocean City’s demand the turbines be a certain mileage from shore. We disagree with the assumption beach-goers and oceanfront property owners will be disgruntled if they can see the turbines from the shore. We also believe there is some misleading being done by Ocean City with unrealistic computer renderings portraying the wind turbines off the coast.
It’s frankly an unknown whether a majority of tourists, property owners and prospective buyers will be turned off if their sunrise from the beach includes some spinning thumbnail or slightly bigger wind turbines. It’s really a guess at this point how visible they will be from the beach. It’s clear each day will be different, and most days they will not be noticeable, due to clouds on the horizon, winds and hazy conditions in the summer.
What’s clear at this point is the projects have been at altered in the middle of the process and after approvals. Therefore, we see enough reason to get more information from the developers before proceeding.