Ocean City plans to break ground Thursday on a solar farm that will generate enough power to run the resort town's convention center and municipal buildings.

In a statement, Mayor Rick Meehan called it “a true example of the Town of Ocean City’s commitment to renewable energy and a sustainable future for our resort community.”

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The project comes as town leaders fight an offshore wind farm they say could disrupt beach views and send tourists elsewhere. The City Council decided in May even free electricity wouldn’t justify the project, rejecting such an offer from developer U.S. Wind in a closed-door session in May.

A wind farm developer offered Ocean City free electricity, but resort town is still fighting offshore turbines

Ocean City officials say they don't want wind turbines to be built within 30 miles of the resort town's beaches — not even in exchange for free electricity. That is what energy developer US Wind recently offered to appease concerns of disrupted views from Maryland beaches.

U.S. Wind is planning to build 32 wind turbines a minimum of 17 nautical miles from shore. The company’s renderings show them appearing as specks on the horizon on a clear day.

But Ocean City leaders say they fear the project will be more imposing than that. They also worry it could grow — Maryland regulators approved U.S. Wind for as many as 64 turbines as close as 14 miles from shore.

The solar farm will only be 10 miles from beaches — but in the opposite direction. Constellation Energy Group plans to build 30,000 photovoltaic panels on 113 acres near Berlin, at the intersection of U.S. Route 50 and State Route 90, the Ocean City Expressway.

Pair of studies criticize Maryland renewable energy policy as 'cleanwashing' pollution

A pair of critical new studies say a Maryland program designed to promote renewable energy projects is also helping fossil fuel power and other sources of air pollution. In its study, environmental group Food and Water Watch accuses the state of "cleanwashing" dirty sources of energy.

Constellation said the Gateway Solar project helps satisfy a requirement that its parent company, Chicago-based Exelon Corp., build at least 10 megawatts of solar energy on the Delmarva peninsula. That was a condition Maryland regulators placed on Exelon in approving its 2016 purchase of Pepco Holdings, the parent company of utility Delmarva Power and Light.

Ocean City officials said the project accounts for 20 percent of the town’s energy use. Through a deal with Constellation offering the energy below , the project will save Ocean City taxpayers $120,000 per year, town officials said.

Under the sea: Company to explore ocean floor off Maryland's coast to prepare for offshore wind plans

Deepwater Wind is launching a survey of waters off Maryland and Delaware, to help it plan for its proposed 15-turbine Skipjack Wind Farm. The survey will detail the geology and biology along the coast, helping determine where wind turbines will be built.

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