Ocean City wind farm: Consider the unintended consequences

February 15, 2011

While the concept of a large scale wind farm off the coast of Ocean City is an ambitious and inviting project, our state representatives and citizens need to seriously consider any unintended negative effects before committing to such an endeavor.

First of all it is important to address any concerns about the safety of our migratory birds in the flyway off our coast. Wind turbines have been responsible for bird strikes, and we must be sure we continue to ensure their safety. Having attended the Wind Vision Conference on December 4th, I was very encouraged when guest speaker Robert Mitchell, the CEO of Trans Atlantic Development Company, stated that in order to protect all migratory birds and other marine life, the wind farm has to be at least 15 miles offshore. The state has already agreed to locate the farm 20 miles off the coast of Assateague, yet Mike Tidwell, executive director of Chesapeake Climate Action Network, said that the one off Ocean City will be between 10 and 12 miles offshore. This does not make sense if we are truly concerned about overall wildlife protection.

Another concern is the ultimate effect on Ocean City itself. The closer the wind farm, the great effect on the view from shore. It has been stated that at 10 miles, one would see the turbines at a thumbnail's height. This does not even take into consideration the larger view for residents of high-rises. At night the wind farm will have to be illuminated with flashing lights. This will give the impression of a bridge spanning all 10 miles of our valuable coastline. While initially there will be a curiosity factor for visitors, how many will return if our vista has been permanently altered? How many travel brochures and magazines show photos of ocean vistas with wind turbines on the horizon?

This is one of the views on earth which has not changed in millions of years. Do we want to alter it?

A third and important issue is the overall economic impact, not only to Ocean City but to all taxpayers in our state. Is this proposed wind farm the most cost effective way of achieving our long term goals of renewable energy?

As citizens of one of the most beautiful states in the U.S., we should use careful planning to safeguard against destroying our valuable assets in our quest to preserve the earth.

Karen Guglielmo, Davidsonville

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