(April 2, 2021) Despite this week’s announcement from President Joe Biden’s administration of making America the leader in offshore wind energy by 2030 – a move that will result in wind turbines being placed up and down the East Coast – Mayor Rick Meehan said he does not want turbines to block the views from Ocean City.
The administration’s announcement also included speeding up the permitting process for offshore wind, offering loans to help pay for the bolstering of infrastructure needed to reach the goal, and creating “good-paying, union jobs.”
Biden announced a push to build a new infrastructure in America based on clean energy that would create thousands of jobs, in his first week in office, and the announcement this week follows up on that initiative.
While clean energy encompasses solar and wind on land, a major part of Biden’s initiative focuses on offshore wind in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and Gulf of Mexico.
The announcement came on the heels of a report released on March 18 by partner organizations Environment Maryland, Environment North Carolina, and Environment Virginia Research & Policy Centers and the Frontier Group.
In the report, titled “Offshore Wind for America,” it was determined that Maryland, North Carolina and Virginia could provide more than 280 percent of the electricity usage in the region in 2019, and 137 percent of the projected electricity use in 2050.
“I think this is a positive initiative, but I do not believe that the wind farms off the coast of Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, as currently proposed, would generate enough power to power the entire region,” Meehan said in an email this week.
The mayor said he believes multiple sources of energy – whether wind, solar, and natural gas backup generators – would be needed to accomplish a goal of making Maryland 100 percent reliant on clean energy.
One company, Ørsted, is currently working to set up offshore wind farms in places like Block Island, Rhode Island, and Montauk, New York, as well as off the Delaware-Maryland coast.
Ørsted is in the process of developing the Skipjack Wind Farm, consisting of 12 or fewer turbines located 19.5 miles off the coast of Ocean City, that will generate 120-megawatts of clean energy to 35,000 homes and generate thousands of jobs in the region.
David Hardy, the CEO of Ørsted, issued his support of Biden’s initiative in a press release this week.
“This action will set our country on a path to maximize our unmatched wind potential to help mee the nation’s clean energy needs,” Hardy said. “More than that, it reaffirms offshore wind’s ability to launch a new U.S. industry that will provide well-paying union jobs, create economic opportunity, and generate local investment that will benefit all Americans.”
While Ocean City officials has remained supportive of clean energy initiatives like this, Meehan said he does not want it to come at the expense of the view. He also has concerns that it may not be the most reliable source of energy, as the “wind doesn’t always blow, and the sun doesn’t always shine.”
But above all else, Meehan expressed concerns that the wind turbines would be much closer to the shoreline than other places in the region.
“Right now, only one lease area exists off the coast of Maryland and it starts less than 13 miles from Ocean City, which clearly impacts the views off our coast,” he said. “We support a new federal lease area being established further off the coast to prevent this from occurring. Virginia Beach and the Outer Banks both have lease areas starting 25 miles offshore, and Virginia Beach already has two turbines located 27 miles from shore. This can be done.”