Before Saturday’s hearing on the design switch offshore windfarm developers made from big turbines to titanic ones, the public has to wonder about the exact purpose of this Public Service Commission forum.
Is it an earnest proceeding that will be considered and, possibly, used to require a reconfiguration of the towers or the windfarm sites themselves? Or will this be a pro forma exercise to satisfy the local demand to be heard?
Only the PSC members know for sure, but whatever it turns out to be will determine whether the mayor and council are tilting at windmills and if the Ocean City tourism industry carries any weight with state decision-makers.
It’s difficult to believe that the commission suddenly realized it forgot to ask members of the community most affected by these projects how they feel about it now.
And that’s the thing: most Marylanders say they like the idea of green energy (or don’t care enough to comment), but then again, they won’t be dealing with it up close and personal. Put a few dozen of these sky-cracking turbines up in the Chesapeake facing Annapolis, or plant a few around Fort McHenry, and we would see how many local endorsements they receive then.
Had one or the other been the case, that $1.7 billion subsidy the legislature approved in 2013 for wind energy development would have flown out the window so rapidly that it would have generated its own stiff breeze.
There’s no argument here or on the mayor and council that the need to get away from burning fossil fuels for our electricity is urgent. Other options must be explored and instituted.
Still, it’s hardly equitable to require one small area and the economic welfare of its inhabitants to make the one and only sacrifice for everyone else.
In the meantime, local speakers at Saturday’s hearing should keep their comments unemotional, nonrepetitive, factual, straight and to the point. No one knows whether the hearing officers will be listening, but no good will be served by giving them an excuse to turn a deaf ear to local concerns.