A Future with Offshore Wind Energy? Residents Confront Pros, Cons

29 Nov 2017

Members of the public spoke for and against renewable offshore wind recently at a workshop in Odessa.

The input will guide officials as they look into offshore wind and how it might affect the First State.

Residents presented their comments in favor of and against offshore wind to Delaware's Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's Division of Energy and Climate at the Appoquinimink Training Center.

They also heard from development officials at Deepwater Wind and U.S. Wind — the companies that received approval from the Maryland Public Service Commission to construct offshore wind farms to power Maryland homes. 

Wilmington resident Alex Horgan attended the meeting for a school club assignment. He says he wants to preserve the Earth for his future children with renewable resources, not fossil fuels.

“We really have to assess the impact of these wind turbines but we also have to realize the minimal impact in the construction is way less impacting on the environment than the impact of continued use of fossil fuels in the long term,” Horgan said.

But some people who live near the beaches are not as enthused. Bethany Beach resident Geoffrey Pohanka says he worries the turbines could lower his property value.

“I care a lot about the beach. I’m concerned about aesthetics. Do you know it will look like?” said Pohanka, addressing the crowd.

Years ago, when NRG Bluewater Wind had a plan on the table to develop a wind farm off of Delaware’s coast, volunteer hawk watchers collected some data to determine if raptors and wind turbines could co-exist.

They didn’t collect enough data to determine anything and the project fizzed in 2011.

Matt Sarver, the conservation chair of the Delmarva Ornithological Society, said he’d like the state to look again into how large turbines could affect birds.

“We’re generally supportive of renewable energy strategies,” Sarver said. “We just [want to] make sure the sighting is done in a responsible way with respect to species of concern.”

Many birds migrate through Delaware in the fall, and some species stop along the coast to take advantage of a wintering area.

The Offshore Wind Working Group will gather additional comments at another public meeting Tuesday, Dec. 5 in Lewes.

The panel is expected to report to Gov. John Carney (D) on recommendations, barriers and opportunities of offshore wind by Dec. 15.

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