Offshore wind farms could “destroy” Delaware’s coastal tourism, Caesar Rodney Institute claims

Rehoboth Beach (WGMD’s Rob Petree)

The Caesar Rodney Institute’s Center for Energy Competitiveness has petitioned Governor John Carney to take action, arguing that a wind farm off the coast of Delaware would “destroy” the state’s coastal tourism.

“In a few years the world’s largest industrial wind turbines will fill the horizon from Rehoboth Beach to Fenwick Island at six times the height of typical cell phone towers,” the institute wrote in a letter sent to the Governor.

In an interview with WGMD’s Rob Petree, Dave Stevenson, Director for the Center for Energy Competitiveness with the Caesar Rodney Institute explains…

“My research is showing offshore wind projects could destroy our beach economy,” Dave Stevenson, Director for the Center for Energy Competitiveness with the Caesar Rodney explained. “Tourists visit Eastern Sussex for the ocean, and a pristine view to the horizon is critical to that beach enjoyment.”

Ørsted, an energy company based in Denmark, is the company pushing the project and partnering with Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC), who’s allowing the project to move forward after the company promised to invest as much as $18 million in Fenwick Island State Park.

Delaware will receive no benefit. The electricity generated will be used for the State of Maryland. There were talks about feeding electricty from the farm into the Indian River Power Plant, but the Army Corps of Engineers wouldn’t allow it.

Stevenson said Rehoboth Beach will be the single most impacted beach community as a result of the wind farm.

In an interview with WGMD’s Rob Petree, Stevenson explains…

“It’s going to affect Rehoboth the most,” Stevenson explained. “The way the lease runs, in Fenwick it’s 17 miles off the coast, but in Rehoboth it’s 13 miles off of the coast. It’s going to look worse in Rehoboth. We’ve got more people visiting Rehoboth than visits Fenwick, so I think it’s going to have a bigger economic impact in the Rehoboth-Dewey area than it will as we go south.”

WGMD News reached out to both Governor Carney’s Office and the Rehoboth-Dewey Beach Chamber of Commerce and responses.

A number of surveys, including one from the University of Delaware, indicate perhaps 15-to-35 percent of tourists will stop coming as the view degenerates as a result of the offshore wind turbines.

The Delaware Tourism Office reported in 2016, tourism contributed roughly $3 billion to Delaware’s gross domestic product, sustained over 41,000 direct jobs, and generated $470 million in taxes and fees for state and local government.

The offshore wind project will not start construction for at least two more years.