FENWICK ISLAND – Fenwick officials are calling on federal agencies to adopt an exclusion zone for offshore wind projects.
Last Friday, the Fenwick Island Town Council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution asking federal agencies to update visualizations and radar studies to reflect the larger turbines being proposed for projects off the coast of Delaware and to move offshore wind lease areas at least 30 miles offshore.
“If these turbines were out of sight of our tourist population I think we would be able to preserve the high level of tourism that comes in,” said Councilman Paul Breger, chair of the Fenwick Island Environmental Committee. “The committee proposes a resolution to support the federal adoption of an exclusion zone for offshore wind of at least 30 miles from the entire coast of Delaware.”
Breger told council members last week the committee had met throughout the winter months to review offshore wind studies, publications and lawsuits, contact neighboring towns and consult with experts in the field of alternative energy. The town had also met with U.S. Wind and Orsted, the two companies leading offshore wind energy projects off the coast.
Those discussions, he said, highlighted the impacts offshore wind projects had on migratory birds, marine life and viewsheds. To that end, the committee presented council members last week with its resolution.
“Based on our findings, the committee recommends that the Fenwick Island Town Council adopt a resolution in opposition to Fenwick Island offshore wind projects,” he said.
In 2017, the Maryland Public Service Commission approved offshore renewable energy credits for two projects – US Wind’s MarWin project and Orsted’s Skipjack project – situated in an 80,000-acre Wind Energy Area off the coast.
While those projects are currently working through the review process with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the two companies have already applied for more energy credits to complete second phases.
“The turbines they are projecting to install in these lease areas has grown from 600 feet to 830 feet, and possibly 1,100 feet,” Breger said.
He noted the resolution supports the federal adoption of an exclusion zone for offshore wind.
“We call upon the U.S Congress and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to update visualization and radar studies for turbines up to 1100’ tall,” the resolution reads, “and abandon offshore wind lease areas closer than at least 30 miles from shore and ensure any new lease areas avoid impacts on endangered species, fishing grounds, vessel transit lanes, and consider all other environment risks.”
Council members last week praised the committee’s work.
“Once those turbines get to our beaches, it will be too late,” said Mayor Vicki Carmean.
Councilwoman Natalie Magdeburger agreed.
“I think we are all in favor of green energy,” she said, “but I think it has to be done in the context that we aren’t making one problem to correct another.”
After further discussion, a motion to approve the resolution passed unanimously.
The council last week also voted to hold an Environmental Committee Offshore Wind Symposium at Indian River High School on April 22.
“The committee felt that we should present all this information to the public,” Breger said. “When we found out a lot of local towns and communities didn’t understand the gravity of this lease area and what was going to happen to the shoreline, they were very interested in gathering all this information. So our committee decided we would have a symposium.”
Orsted’s Skipjack 1 project is expected to generate 120-megawatts of energy, while its Skipjack 2 project is expected to generate 760 megawatts, or about six times the size of the initial project. Both phases would be sited about 20 miles off the coast.
Orsted reports its Skipjack offshore wind projects will generate clean, renewable energy to the Eastern Shore by powering 290,000 homes throughout the region.
Similarly, US Wind’s MarWin project would include 22 turbines about 17 miles off the coast, while its proposed Momentum Wind project would include 82 turbines.
US Wind’s MarWin project is expected to power more than 80,000 Maryland homes and support more than 3,000 local jobs.