Concerns raised over plans to install world’s largest wind turbines in Ocean City

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Photo showing what the turbines would look like off the coast – Town of Ocean City

The world’s largest offshore wind turbines could be coming to the coast of Ocean City and not everyone is happy about it, specifically those who argue it would create an eyesore on the horizon and commericial fisherman who question the impact it could have on their operations in the region.

The proposal would install turbines that would span 853 ft into the air, just shy of the same height of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and over half the height of the Empire State Building in New York.

Originally, the height of the turbines were not to exceed 643-feet in height as part of the proposal; however, that changed after U.S. Wind officials proposed reduction in the amount of turbines from 64 to 32 and raised the height.

Deep concerns have been raised by residents and officials in Ocean City since the proposal was made public with many claiming the turbines could create a serious eyesore on the horizon, negatively affecting tourism.

The Ocean City Mayor and City Council have openly supported clean energy, including offshore wind, however; have expressed serious concern for these projects to be done in a responsible manner.

Among those concerned are officials with the Coast Guard in Ocean City, according to Mayor Rick Meehan who told our Mike Bradley that he and others are doing everything they can to stay on top of this.

Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan in an interview with Mike Bradley…

“The Coast Guard has a lot of concerns about where these turbines are going to be located, how close they are to the shipping lanes, and they’re trying to move them towards the west because they want them further away from the shipping lanes,” Mayor Meehan said. “This may reduce the number of turbines that they can build which may not make the project even feasible. We are trying to make sure we stay on top of this because this is something that could affect us, certainly for a long period of time.”

In a prior release from the the City, Mayor Rick Meehan said he and other officials in the town understand the need for renewable energy but not in a way that would place Ocean City’s future at risk.

“These turbines are permanent installations. We only have one chance to make this right and if that means the projects get delayed or the developers make a little less profit, it will be money and time well spent to protect our Town,” Meehan concluded.

Maryland State Senator Mary Beth Carozza said she was caught off guard by the increase in the heighth, expressing concerns over the impact the turbines could have to the beach town’s tourism and the commerical fishing industry in her district.

Sen. Mary Beth Corozza speaks to our Mike Bradley in an interview on WGMD

“I was a little caught off guard with this news about the significant increase, the 853-feet high turbines,” Sen. Corozza explained. “This has significantly increased from the original proposal.”

While the focus on the criticism has largely been centered around tourism, commerical fishery is also of a concern, according to Sen. Corozza, who highlighted the concerns expressed by fisherman in her district who have appeared at several public forums with a host of questions regarding the project.

“I have talked with our commerical fishing industry and they have raised concerns about the impact on their fishing industry,” Sen. Corozza said. “That’s an industry that’s already very hard hit with regulations, and they’re up against it.”

Danish company Orsted holds the permit for the project which was given the go-ahead in 2017 by the Maryland Public Service Commission to install the turbines, Haliade-X 12-megawatt turbines, spanning 853-feet in height.

The company expanded its footprint in Maryland earlier this month and opened a project office in Annapolis, signaling to some that the company has plans to waste no time in moving forward with the project.

Maryland is not the only state where the company has plans to install turbines, Ørsted’s offshore wind projects include rights to develop off the coasts of Massachusetts and New Jersey.

A U.S. Wind tower is currently under construction about 10-miles off the coast of Ocean City to measure the wind speeds ahead of plans to move forward with the installation of the turbines.