Commentary: Offshore wind farm projects would destroy ocean views

Several offshore wind farm projects that will stretch from Rehoboth Beach to Ocean City, Maryland will soon be a reality unless citizens and legislators take action now.

Orsted Wind Power (Denmark) has been granted one of multiple offshore wind farm leases. Orsted’s Skipjack Offshore Energy, LLC and Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) have a tentative agreement to allow installation of multiple electric transmission cables and connection facilities (industrial uses) in the ecologically fragile Fenwick Island State Park in exchange for a major expansion of the park.

The park is a narrow strip of sensitive ecosystems, wetlands, and wildlife habitats that normally would be protected by DNREC, so why the push to commercialize and industrialize it?

Skipjack and other offshore wind energy companies are looking to use the tallest wind turbines in the world, measuring 853 feet or three times taller than the turbine in Lewes. As planned, these turbines will be in plain view from the Delaware shoreline both day and night (with flashing red beacon lights). This will forever destroy the pristine ocean vista that people have assumed would never change.

Renewable clean energy is a good thing, but offshore wind turbines visible from Delaware’s Atlantic coastline should not be allowed. In fact, many official groups are against placing these large turbines off shore including, Ocean City, Maryland, state of Maryland’s Assateague Park, the Assateague National Park, Army Corps of Engineers, Homeland Security, The Coast Guard, The town of Fenwick Island, MERR, and several wildlife groups.

Instead DNREC has decided that $18 million plus a $740,000 endowment to support maintenance of the park far outweighs ruining the park and Delaware’s ocean horizon. The park is located in a flood zone, which normally is a criterion for restricting the number of buildings, parking, and permitted uses in such a sensitive ecosystem area. DNREC should be protecting the park, not destroying its natural character by approving its expansion and the creation of an industrial application within the park boundaries.

People visit our parks so they can experience what nature looks like, not what concrete looks like.

It’s no secret that the Atlantic coastline is in a hurricane corridor, and the proposed wind turbines have not been tested to withstand a maximum strength hurricane or nor’easter. So if the proposed turbines are struck down in a storm, who will pay to clean up the damage, something that Delaware’s Coastal Zone Act is presently trying to accomplish along the Delaware Bay.

The Atlantic horizon should never be polluted with wind turbines because the natural horizon belongs to the people and future generations, not energy developers. Responsible renewable energy can be accomplished without destroying Delaware’s coastal views and fragile park ecosystems, if the wind energy developers like Orsted are willing to spend whatever it takes to protect Delaware’s natural assets.

The solution is simple, offshore wind energy needs to be done “the right way,” by keeping turbines out of sight from the shoreline and placing the landside cables in proper industrial locations. If doing it the right way is not cost effective for energy developers, then offshore wind energy must be stopped and the wind turbines moved to onshore.

Delaware’s legislators need to pick up the torch now, and be the stewards of the state’s natural resources and the protectors of our Atlantic coastline by stopping Skipjack and other offshore wind projects until the view from our coastline is guaranteed to remain as it is today. Once these turbines are installed, there’s no going back.

Paul Breger is a resident of Fenwick Island.

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