Ocean City Today

Wind farm debate: city has no choice

Feb 08, 2018



printed 02/09/2018


Wind power is good; conventional power is bad. Such is the thinking that fuels what little debate there is over the prospect of two massive wind farms off the coast of Ocean City.

It’s an emotional topic, given the American public’s overwhelming bipartisan support of increased wind farm development — 83 percent in 2016, according to Pew Research Center.

Further, this support does not hinge on a belief in climate change or its causes. Other considerations, such as job creation, statewide economic impacts, the desire for energy independence and increasingly unfavorable opinions of fossil fuel-fired power plants contribute to this public endorsement as well.

That puts Ocean City government and other local opponents of offshore wind farm development in a small minority, despite their assertions that a turbine-cluttered horizon could devalue billions of dollars of real estate.

That’s a valid opinion, but it’s also impossible to assign a number to it that could offset some of the Public Service Commission’s projections of 9,700 new jobs, $74 million in new tax revenue and $1.8 billion of in-state spending over 20 years.

Yet, criticisms of the mayor and City Council’s restated opposition to offshore wind Monday night are unwarranted.

Their job is to look after Ocean City, not the state, nation or the world. They cannot sit up on the dais and endorse saving the planet at Ocean City’s expense, when the planet doesn’t elect them.

Neither can they say they believe the state’s economic needs supersede Ocean City’s. That’s just not their job, especially considering that offshore energy development won’t do any direct good for the resort.

The benefits derived from the creation of local jobs and onshore facilities, as well as increased use of the West Ocean City commercial harbor, would accrue to the county, not Ocean City.

As Mayor Rick Meehan said, the last thing he wants to hear, should the local tax base or tourism be affected negatively by wind farm projects, is how could local government allow it to happen? The fact is the mayor and council have little power to wield in this process, so they did the only thing they could. They shouldn’t be blamed for that.

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