OCEAN CITY — One of the first significant contracts awarded in the proposed offshore wind energy project off the coast of Ocean City went to a fabrication firm in Louisiana, leading local officials to question whether a promise to create jobs and spur economic development in Maryland has been broken early in the process.
Last spring, the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) approved US Wind’s project of 32 wind turbines off the resort coast at a distance of 17 miles, or the farthest east area of its federally-designated Wind Energy Area (WEA).
Throughout the process, the Town of Ocean City has supported the US Wind project in general, but has strongly opposed the placement of any turbines within 26 miles of the resort coast, or the distance from which town officials believe the massive turbines would not be visible from the Ocean City shoreline. The town’s opposition regarding the distance from the coast has largely been based on the premise visible turbines would have a detrimental impact on the views from Ocean City shore, tourism and property values.
The battle over the distance of the turbines has been waged through an aggressive letter-writing campaign carried out by both sides and culminated this month with strong testimony from both sides during Maryland Senate committee hearings on a bill that would require the turbines to be sited at least 26 miles off the coast. That legislation ultimately failed when it did not make it out of committee.