Letter to the Editor: Misunderstanding comments about offshore wind

A recent letter to the editor mischaracterized comments I made in an Oct. 29, commentary published in the Delaware State News titled, “Beach view and economy under threat.” The letter writer assumed, incorrectly, I am an opponent of clean energy, and that I stated home prices would fall.

I quoted a University of Delaware study that states 20 to 30 percent of beach homeowners might sell their homes if offshore wind turbines were visible. One might expect lower home values, however I have no data to support that claim, and didn’t make it.

My comments were based on both the University of Delaware, and North Carolina State University surveys that found anywhere from 15 to 47 percent of tourists would stop coming to a beach considering visibility of the proposed 853 foot tall wind turbines.

Using data from the state Department of Tourism, Caesar Rodney Institute economist, Dr. John Stapleford, estimated the economic impact on home rental income, hotels and motels, food, shopping, and transportation if tourism dropped by 20, or 30 percent. The estimated economic loss ranged between $591 million and $887 million, with a loss of 4,920 to 7,400 jobs, to be precise.

In contrast to that kind of potential economic damage, the $18 million the wind project developer is offering to improve state parks, in exchange for accepting high voltage transmission lines and substations, is chump change.

If even 1 percent of tourists stopped coming the cost would overwhelm the $18 million offer in only one season. The risk is not worth it. The parks division is ready to accept this deal with no environmental, geotechnical, or economic impact studies.

As a co-founder of Delaware’s Green Building Council, homeowner and designer of a net zero energy home, participant in a low income home weatherization task force, and active lobbyist for Delaware’s Energy Efficiency Act, I take great umbrage to the claim I am opposed to clean energy.

I am opposed to proposals to invest in poor public policy. Maryland electric customers are supporting these offshore wind projects by guaranteeing the developers wholesale electric revenue of 19 cents a kilowatt-hour excluding transmission cost, compared to conventional wholesale power at 6 cents including transmission cost.

I recently advised the City of Lewes Board of Public Works to pursue a roughly 7-acre solar project that should result in a 4-cent a kilowatt-hour cost. That’s clean power, and a cost savings.

David T. Stevenson
Director, Center for Energy Competitiveness
Caesar Rodney Institute

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