At the Bethany Beach City Council meeting last Friday, local officials and 12 residents asked the age-old question “What’s in it for me?”
While wind power projects off Ocean City, Maryland, including the U.S. Wind MarWin project, are currently undergoing final federal review to power 80,000 homes in Maryland, this is the region of Bethany Beach in Delaware which will support the electrical load of its neighbor.
According to testimony from BOEM and a presentation requested by Bethany Beach Mayor Rosemary Hardiman, US Wind plans to connect to the NRG electrical substation in Dagsboro via Indian River Inlet. The relocation of four massive power cables is proposed at 3R’s Beach or Tower Road Beach, relocating wind power from the original 22 wind turbines.
Offshore wind projects are expected to create 2,700 jobs in the region, mostly in Maryland. Momentum Wind, a second, larger wind farm, will require additional infrastructure and the construction of the power grid in Delaware and Maryland.
After hearing the question of what’s in it for Delaware residents, the response from Mike Dunmyer, Delaware Director of Development for US Wind, is that Bethany and southern Delaware will have infrastructure benefits. for the power grid with an enhancement to manage new energy resources, additional power availability for the development of new communities, careers in a high-tech wind energy field and targeted charitable donations by energy companies wind turbine.
“What’s in it for Delaware?” Dunmyer said. “First, by connecting to the Sussex County grid, the power we produce would be available to Delaware. We will be spending hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster the [power] grid here.
“You also get the important jobs” in wind power transmission and the supply chain business “will be a win” for the Bethany region, he said, adding that the region can prosper as a community, “because offshore wind is nearby, with jobs training opportunity.”
“US Wind will be here for 35 to 40 years or more,” Dunmyer said at the board meeting. “We will seek to support charities and non-profit organizations doing important work in the community.” The director of US Wind Delaware cited the $100,000 donation already provided to the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays and its education center at James Farm.
From a broader perspective, engaging with wind power transmission infrastructure can help reduce carbon emissions and ozone-depleting CO2 emissions from the existing coal-fired power plant here.
“I have a home in Lewes,” Dunmyer said, “I have a home in Dewey. Coastal flooding is not just from storms; it happens from tidal waves and nuisance flooding” at Bethany and in the region.
“If approved, this project will represent another step forward in creating a robust offshore wind industry here in the United States, while creating well-paying jobs and supporting families,” said the BOEM Director. , Amanda Lefton. “We are committed to using the best available scientific and traditional knowledge to inform our decisions and protect the ocean environment.”
Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan has been vocal in his disagreement with the MarWin project, particularly regarding field of view and sightlines of wind turbine blades impacting tourism. He publicly denounced the short lead time between BOEM’s acceptance of US Wind’s construction and operating plans and the public hearings on the project’s “scope” held in July.
“We think we’ll use 817-foot turbines,” Dunmyer said, “938 feet above the main waterline,” when the wind farm base is considered.
“We’ve identified two landing spots,” Dunmyer said. “3R’s Beach is our favorite landing spot. Tower Road Beach is south of Dewey’ and would be the backup. The electrical substation is the Indian River NRG Power Station.
“We would dig tunnels and send cables under the entrance and the bottom of the bay. This is the least disruptive route, from an ecosystem perspective and from a human systems perspective,” the US Wind rep said. “If we went under the Indian River and Bay, we would go 1,000 feet offshore. There would be four cable vaults under 3R’s Beach parking lot. All visitors and residents would see the manhole covers in the parking area.
The cable laying process would continue under the Indian River and Bay Wetlands.
“We would use horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to access the substation,” Dunmyer said. This drilling and laying of cables “can only take place outside the tourist season dates of May 15 and September 15.
Dunmyer predicted, “It will take two off seasons, in 2024 and 2025. There are a few potential routes along the rights of way that use roads. These roads will go to the Indian River substation.
“These things are happening, and we can make the decision to pursue offshore wind,” Dunmyer said of the sea level rise events. “What kind of Delmarva Peninsula do you want to leave for our children? ? »
US Wind then showed two simulations using timelapse photography.
“Here’s a 24-hour timelapse, and it shows the layout of the 76 turbines,” Dunmyer commented. “We built the simulation on a 14-foot height simulation and [assuming] a person over 5 feet tall looking out to the ocean.
“When the sunrise comes up, that’s when [turbines] have the most visibility,” US Wind’s demonstration said.
Bethany council members noted that the most visible time of day is early morning, just at dawn, when residents and visitors stroll the beaches to see the sunrise.
“Yeah, that’s when they’re backlit,” Dunmyer agreed. “When the sun goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you will have a hard time seeing them. But in the July 2021 video, you can see them” at dawn.
“They are visible again at sunset when the sun hits them again,” the US Wind rep said. “I think they’re small, and I don’t mind. But different people will see it differently. For sure.”
Visual COP simulations are published on the BOEM website. They represent the complete construction of 121 turbines at 900 feet. The nearest turbine is 20 km from Bethany Beach.
“Your line of sight would be able to see the turbines,” Dunmyer told council and a dozen townspeople at the July 15 meeting. “There are visual simulations of Bethany on the BOEM site, and you can also see morning and night shots. They also have the simulation of the prevailing wind, which comes from the southwest. When the blades are perpendicular to the beach, they are less visible; but when they face you to the east, with full frontage, you would have more visibility.
US Wind representatives said, “Migratory shorebirds will not be near our wind farms. They are outside the migratory route of these shorebirds. But we have seabirds that are offshore,” Dunmyer added. “We do air and boat counts of the species. We know what birds are in the concession area and we see the density there which is much lower than what we see to the east.
“BOEM chose this area because it’s a relative desert,” Dunmyer said. “We can have 15 to 20 birds a day. And they fly lower than turbine blades, in general. There are no visual obstacles; so that they can see these wind farms from far away. So, for example in Europe, they just seem to avoid them.
“There is some risk, but based on the flight behavior we think it’s quite negligible.”
“I am currently the only US Wind employee in Delaware,” Dunmyer noted. “Other Ocean City employees are coming. But right now, I’m the person on the doorstep. If you want me to come to your neighborhood association or a group of friends, let me know.
“We have helped the community with the CIB Education Center in James Farm Nature Reserve,” Dunmyer noted of the company’s work in the community to date. “We donated to Delaware’s Prosperity Partnership.”
“How much energy does Delaware get? asked a member of the city council. “Delaware suffers from all the construction projects, but Maryland gets all the power.”
“We are part of a 14-state network operated by PJM,” Dunmyer said. “Thus, the contracts determine the invoicing. Electrons tend to be consumed close to where they connect. We will use clean energy here in Delaware due to the proximity to your homes. »
Dunmyer noted that much of the power in this region is “now imported from Pennsylvania. bringing [wind] power from the east could alleviate some of the electricity congestion.
“US Wind is paying for infrastructure – and there will be jobs,” Dunmyer concluded. “The state may want to talk about workforce training aids, and we’ve let cities know through ACT [Association of Coastal Towns] that we can help you address concerns or issues in your local community. »
“We’re strengthening your power grid right here in Delaware.”
“This wind power is picking up,” Hardiman said, “and the feds are looking for more coastline. They’ve got up to 4 million acres they’re looking for from Delaware to the North Carolina coast. Now, they seek to develop further, further east and further. This is a “call zone process”. Large blocks, further east, are being analyzed environmental.
“There are 20 wind farm developments from New England to North Carolina,” Dunmyer said.