Ocean City Wind Farm Hot Topic
By MADDY VITALE
Wind farm officials explained in a Zoom meeting Monday night why they want to install a transmission line under the seabed in Ocean City and bring power ashore via cable to the 35th Street beaches.
And they also heard a lot of comments from opponents of the project, as well as supporters of the plan. The project is in the planning and permitting phase and is expected to be completed by 2024.
Although Orsted and PSEG, the wind farm development partnership, clarified that public comment should be limited to the transmission line during the meeting, many people commented on the project as a whole.
The wind farm, called Ocean Wind, would include 98 wind turbines. Each turbine is about 900 feet tall and would stretch along the coast from Atlantic City to Stone Harbor about 15 miles offshore, passing Ocean City and Sea Isle City in the process.
The meeting lasted two hours and 35 minutes and the vast majority of people who spoke were against the wind farm, while five or six others were in favor.
“This is going to destroy our beautiful beach community,” Ocean City resident Cathy Ingham said in a public comment. “It will destroy our tourism and our real estate values.”
Elizabeth Mallozzi spoke in favor of the project.
“As a resident, I want Ocean City to have maximum benefits,” Mallozzi said, adding that she thinks the proposal would be good for the environment and the community.
Orsted, a Danish energy company, filed a petition Feb. 2 with the state’s Utilities Board to use an area of Ocean City to install a transmission line. The lands for the proposed transmission line that would cross Ocean City “are congested by New Jersey State Green Acres restrictions.”
Orsted would need approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection and the New Jersey State House Commission to proceed.
Representatives from Orsted and PSEG explained why they believe the transmission line through 35th Street in Ocean City would be the best and most direct route.
Pilar Patterson, Orsted’s Mid-Atlantic Permissions Manager, said: “For tonight’s hearing, we are focusing on the shortest cable and where it comes ashore in Ocean City and involves less of an acre in Ocean City itself. The focus of the hearing should be on the Green Acres diversion.
The cable would stretch from the seabed and bring electricity ashore via a cable on the 35th Street beach lots in Ocean City. The Underground Cable would travel west to Bay Avenue, north on Bay Avenue to Roosevelt Boulevard, west across Peck Bay at the Roosevelt Boulevard Bridge, then continue on Route 9 to at property near former BL England Power Station in Upper Township.
PSEG representative David Hinchey Jr. explained the transmission line in more detail and said the work would be done during the offseason and would be primarily on public road rights-of-way.
“There would be no changes to the beach and no scheduled maintenance at the converted plots,” Hinchey said. “If necessary, it would be serviced by manholes.”
Ocean City would retain ownership of the land and public access to the beach would not be disrupted, Orsted officials noted.
In recent years, Orsted has touted what the wind farm could mean for the region, including a 1,100 megawatt project providing clean, renewable energy. It would also create thousands of construction jobs and power more than 500,000 homes.
But skeptics say it has the potential to be bad for marine life, wildlife and the commercial fishing industry. Some opponents of the project have also said it could negatively affect real estate values, vacation rentals, the tourism industry, raise taxes and increase the area’s energy bills. The sight of the turbines on the horizon and the sound of the blades also raise concerns.
Others against the project have talked about how more studies should be done to determine if there is a compelling need for the project.
“We demand that in-depth scientific and environmental studies be carried out. We are a very small island and the proposed area that Orsted wants to use for cable is a densely populated area of homes and a few stores,” said Ocean City resident Suzanne Hornick, Save Our Shorelines Core Committee Member. NJ.
Greg Cudnik, a Long Beach Island resident and avid fisherman, said there was “no compelling need. What it does is put the community and wildlife at risk.
But people in favor of the plan, including Ocean City Sean Raymond, said the project was necessary to help the environment.
“I want to apologize for some of the harsh comments you are receiving,” Raymond told Orsted and PSEG officials. “There is already a ton of infrastructure in our lines of sight (of which) we take very little notice. We look at 34th Street, we see parking lots, grocery stores. I think it’s insincere to accuse Orsted of destroying property. I support the project and am grateful for your work on this.
Marcus Sibley, president of the NAACP’s New Jersey State Conference on Environmental and Climate Justice, said Orsted officials should clarify key aspects of the project to the public.
“I appreciate the feedback from presenters so far,” he said.
Sibley, however, stressed that officials need to look at three areas relating to Ocean City residents — optics, economics and inconvenience.
He noted that people are afraid of how they might be affected by the wind farm.
“I think it’s important for the developer to dispel misconceptions,” Sibley said, adding that more information was needed about the jobs that could be created by the project.
Answers to all questions from the Zoom meeting will be compiled into a single document, Orsted officials said.
The document will be available on the Ocean Wind website after March 21.
The public can submit written comments for two weeks after the scoping meeting. All written comments should be submitted by March 21 to Tom Suthard at Orsted Ocean Wind, 600 Atlantic Ave., Suite 2, Atlantic City, New Jersey 08401 or [email protected]
A copy of any written comments should also be submitted to the Green Acres Program at [email protected] with “Ocean Wind” in the subject line, or to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, Bureau of Legal Services and Stewardship, 401 E. State St., 7th Floor, Mail Code 401-07B, PO Box 420, Trenton, New Jersey 08625-0420, Attn: Ocean Wind Application.
More information about the project can be found at oceanwind.com.