Rehoboth committee has mixed feelings on wind farms

Committee members see need for change; loss of viewshed, unitendend consequences raise concern
January 31, 2023

Story Location:
Rehoboth Beach City Hall
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971
United States

Back in October, Rehoboth Beach hosted an offshore wind information-gathering session that included presentations from a number of subject-area experts. The expectation is that once all the information is considered, the city will offer an opinion on the proposed wind farms off the coast of Delaware and Maryland.

City commissioners tasked the city’s beach and boardwalk committee with reviewing the information and offering an opinion. The committee continued that discussion during a meeting Jan. 27, and opinions are mixed.

There are two wind farms planned due east of the Delaware coastline – US Wind’s MarWin and Ørsted’s Skipjack Wind Farm.

City Commissioner Jay Lagree, who serves as committee chair, facilitated the discussion with a presentation on the pros and cons of offshore wind power. His pros included the production of inexpensive energy, elimination of carbon dioxide and employment opportunities. Cons included challenges with shipping vessels, fishing commerce, viewshed, unknown environmental impacts and questions related to power storage when the wind doesn’t blow.

U.S. Wind’s Mike Dunmyer, a former Dewey Beach commissioner, and Ørsted’s Chris Bason, former executive director of the Center for the Inland Bays, were on hand to answer specific questions. Both men are liaisons between the power companies and Delaware constituents.

Bason confirmed the information Lagree presented was accurate.

In general, committee members recognize the need for new power-generating technology, but are split on the effects it could have on the city.

Howard Menaker, Kathleen Fisher and Patrisha Davis said they weren’t sure how much authority the city would have if the cables connecting the wind farms don’t come in under the beach in Rehoboth.

If and when that happens, the city can have more authority, said Menaker, adding that everything that could be done to mitigate the effects on the viewshed should be done. 

Davis had questions related to the view of the turbines from the taller buildings in the city and about why the farm areas couldn’t be moved back like they had in other areas.

Dunmyer said the original proposed area went farther east, but was trimmed back to account for Delaware Bay shipping lanes and valuable scallop beds on the other side of the shipping lanes. Also, he said, the companies now have contracts with the federal government and the areas can’t be just moved.

Committee members Frank Cole and Jim Horty aren’t against wind farms, but they are concerned about aesthetics and how they might affect the city.

Cole said Cape May, N.J., is about the same distance away from Rehoboth as the closest turbines would be, and on a clear day Cape May is visible. He said he’d be a lot more comfortable with the turbines if they were at least 20 miles out.

Cole also has concerns about turbine durability in hurricanes and unintended consequences. There are some great environmental benefits, but there are also questions, he said.

Horty said he is concerned the turbines will destroy the values of oceanfront properties within the city. All that is out there now is the open ocean and people will go to places where that remains the case, he said.

Horty said the committee would be doing the city a disservice to simply agree the wind farms should go where they’re proposed.

Committee member Brian Hancock said he thinks wind farms are like 5G technology – the federal government has decided it’s something it wants to pursue, so it’s going to happen whether the city likes it or not.

“We are going to get wind farms,” he said.


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