Contrary to the assertions made by Ken Niehaus in his letter to the editor on Aug. 13, the evidence is quite solid that the two proposed offshore wind turbine projects will damage both our local economy and the environment.
The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) paid an energy expert, Levitan & Associates, to determine the environmental impact of the turbines. The report found that while carbon emission in Maryland would decrease, “the market response would cause carbon emissions to increase in the western and central PJM (13-state grid) due to increased coal generation. Thus the overall emissions in the PJM would increase because of the (wind) projects.”
Thus the energy produced by the turbines would actually increase regional air pollution. See pages 92 and 160 of the report (http://www.levitan.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Levitan-Associates-Inc.-Evaluation-and-Comparison.-Revised-Public-Version.-Case-No.-9431.-ML-214140.pdf).
There are several university studies that show that visible wind turbines would have a negative impact on coastal tourism. North Carolina State University studied the economic impact of offshore wind farms. The researchers surveyed 484 people who had recently rented homes on the North Carolina coast in areas where the state has offshore leases available for wind farm development. Fifty-four percent said they would not rent a vacation home if turbines were in view at all, no matter how large a discount was offered on the rental price (https://news.ncsu.edu/2016/04/taylor-coast-2016/).
The summary of the University of Delaware study which demonstrated diminished visitor enjoyment of the beach from visible wind turbines was flawed. Visualizations were used for 579-foot-tall wind turbines when in actuality the turbines proposed are much taller, at 853 feet. This is the equivalent of moving the turbines 5 miles closer to shore.
A study by Lutzeyer et.al, (2017) surveyed people who had recently rented a house on, or near the beach. The study found that 38 percent of the beach renters would likely not come back to the beach with daytime visible wind turbines, regardless of the distance from shore. The Lutzeyer study also showed visualizations of red aircraft warning lights, and respondents stated even higher rates of objection, with 55 percent not likely to return to the beach with nighttime visible wind turbines (https://www.heartland.org/_template-assets/documents/publications/NCSU%20Offshore%20Wind%20Tourism%20study.pdf).
The two wind power lease areas are quite large. If fully built out, they would hold as many as 397 12MW, 845-foot-tall wind turbines. Undoubtedly, the impact of many dozens or even hundreds of visible offshore wind turbines would have a negative impact on home values, rental income, retail sales and the tourist economy.
Delaware and Maryland’s combined tourist business is worth $5 billion annually and even a 5 percent reduction over the 20-year wind project contract would cost $5.5 billion, not to mention the billions area residents will be paying for wind subsidies and the higher cost of electricity produced. The economic costs of the projects greatly exceed any projected benefits.
Electricity demand in Delaware has fallen 1 percent annually since 2003, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA). There is no need for the additional energy generation produced by the proposed wind turbines. The 410 megawatt Indian River Power Plant that can supply power to several hundred-thousand Delaware homes has operated at barely 5 percent of its capacity this year, highlighting there is no need for additional energy production.
The wind turbines are also a threat to birds, mammals and marine life. According to the New Jersey Dept of Environmental Protection, “Wind turbine development in this region would cause disruption to the migratory and wintering patterns of hundreds of thousands of shorebirds, raptors, songbirds and waterfowl, and would likely cause permanent harm to bird populations in New Jersey, Atlantic Flyway and Western Hemisphere.” (https://www.nj.gov/dep/cmp/windreport090908f.pdf)
At the world’s largest offshore wind farm, at the Isle of Man, observation shows the population of herring gulls are down 82 percent, European shag down 51 percent, and razorbills down 55 percent (https://www.thegwpf.com/isle-of-man-seabird-populations-plummet-as-wind-farms-overwhelm-the-irish-sea/?fbclid=IwAR22sMcTXrRFvMLF5diDj9hp68uhni_vN_J8QrT1EXUOHcchK1KJn7fnRTg).
Visible offshore wind turbines are a bad idea. They cost too much, and they will not reduce CO2 emissions. The industrialization of our beloved beach view is a threat to everything we enjoy here. Everyone can feel the impact from COVID-19 on the local economy. While this pandemic will inevitably fade away, the impact of wind turbines, visible night and day over the ocean horizon, will last for decades. See this website for even more information and how you can get involved: www.saveourbeachview.com.