It is unfortunate that despite making it very clear through our resolution that Ocean City supports responsible clean energy, including wind turbines, our stance is being referenced in your publication as “galling.” What was glazed over in your recent editorial, “Ocean City finds wind turbines too gauche” (Feb. 6), is that the only thing the town stands in opposition to is the distance of more than 100 enormous structures that will forever change the Ocean City horizon.
Ocean City supports clean, unseen energy. What that means is that we would like for the turbines to be constructed at least 26 miles offshore, rather than the 12.9 to 17 miles that one developer is proposing. Our leadership is interested in both promoting green energy and providing job opportunities. But it is also our duty as the mayor and council to preserve all that we have at stake, including the natural beauty of the beach and waters in and adjacent to Ocean City that our residents, non-resident property owners and visitors know and love.
The poll The Sun referenced, which was paid for and conducted by the wind industry, including the companies that are being paid through taxpayer subsidies to install these turbines, claims that visible wind turbines will not have an impact on a person’s decision to rent or buy property in Ocean City. We believe that the view of turbines off of our coast may very well influence these decisions. In fact, a 2016 study conducted by North Carolina State University found that, “Fifty-four percent of tourists surveyed said they would not rent a vacation home again if turbines were in the view at all.” As demonstrated in the NC State study, we believe there is simply too much at stake to risk when building the turbines out of sight of our coast is a viable option. Instead of gambling on the future of Ocean City, all we ask is that the project be completed out of the view of Ocean City.
We know that moving the turbines further offshore can be done. In fact, it is being done just south of us in Virginia Beach. Further, there is a proposed wind farm in Europe that extends 74 miles off the coast. So, our question to the Italian-owned wind company, U.S. Wind, is why can’t we all win? Why can’t we have the wind farms moved further east, giving us clean energy and unobstructed views? The answer is, we can.
As proposed, these turbines pose a significant threat to the economic welfare of the visitors, citizens, and property owners of Ocean City who depend upon a clean and attractive natural environment for their livelihood. This is a big project that will be there forever, and we only have one chance to get it right.
Rick Meehan, Ocean City
The writer is mayor of Ocean City.