Lewes: Wait and see on US Wind money

January 29, 2024

Lewes Mayor and City Council will wait until residents can comment before it decides whether to participate in a community benefits program proposed by US Wind.

“Right now, we’re listening,” said Mayor Andrew Williams.

City leaders received a presentation from US Wind’s Mike Dunmyer and its Jan. 25 workshop. Dunmyer has been pitching the community benefits program to all coastal towns in Delaware.

US Wind program is offering each coastal town $2 million, paid $100,000 per year for 20 years.

The first payment to each town would come when construction begins. The second when the company begins delivering energy to the grid.

Each town would get $100,000 on the anniversary of that date for another 18 years.

In exchange, towns must agree to not take any action to deter or delay the project. Town and city officials could opt out at anytime, but they would have to return two years of payments.

US Wind would not have any say in how communities spend the money.

“We believe that a company should do what it can to support these towns. The coastal towns are our neighbors,” Dunmyer said.

Dunmyer said six towns have decided to hold off on whether to take the money. Fenwick Island will not participate.

Opponents have called the community benefits a bribe to quash opposition to offshore wind energy. Some people have raised concerns on the impact to marine life and the viewshed in beach towns.

US Wind has offshore leases for wind farms from Rehoboth Beach down to Maryland. The US Wind project is projected to have 76 turbines.

Another company, Orsted, has lease rights from Rehoboth Beach to Bethany Beach. Dunmyer said US Wind’s project is three years ahead of Orsted.

Dunmyer said he expects regulators will give final approval in the fall. He said construction of on-shore amenities could begin as soon as 2026, with offshore work beginning in 2027.

He said offshore construction would take place in the summer, while onshore work would happen in the winter.

He also said once the wind farm is up and running, Delaware ratepayers could see their bills go down slightly.

Mary Douglas, a Lewes resident and retired environmental attorney, addressed council in support of offshore wind. Douglas represented a pro-wind energy group made up of 31 organizations called People for Offshore Wind Energy Resources, or POWER.

“We are strongly in favor of proceeding with the reduction in use of fossil fuels and a gradual transition to a clean energy economy,” Douglas said.

She cited several polls that show the majority of people on Delaware favor wind energy. Douglas suggested the public process be deferred until US Wind receives final permitting. 

Williams said the city will hold a public hearing in the future before making a decision on the community benefits program.


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