Rehoboth hosts update on wind projects off Delaware beaches

Wind turbines are seen up close and in the distance in the ocean.

In this Aug. 15, 2016 file photo, three of Deepwater Wind's five turbines stand in the water off Block Island, R.I, the nation's first offshore wind farm. Deepwater Wind said Wednesday, May 30, 2018, it will create a new 400-megawatt wind farm south of Martha's Vineyard that will be 10 times the size of its Block Island project. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer, File)

The Rehoboth Beach commissioners offered an update to a pair of offshore wind projects proposed off the Delaware coast Tuesday. Residents heard from representatives of US Wind and Ørsted along with state and federal officials overseeing the plans.

US Wind’s plans call for 76 turbines at a height of 817 to 938 feet on about 80,000 acres of space about 24 miles away from Dewey Beach and 26.2 miles from Rehoboth.To avoid coming in contact with wetlands, beaches, and dunes, the power lines will be connected to the three onshore substations using buried cables.

“We are confident that we can develop and operate this project safely and responsibly and with negligible to no negative impact on the local ecosystem or wildlife. And this includes birds, turtles, fish, marine mammals,” said US Wind’s Mike Dunmyer. He’s a resident of nearby Lewes who has been researching their lease area since 2014.

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Similarly, Ørsted Skipjack Wind’s plans call for about 70 turbines about 20 miles off the Delaware coast. The company’s Danni Van Drew said the 966-megawatt wind farm will generate enough power to run about 300,000 homes. They are scheduled to deliver power in 2026.

“We are the owners, operators, and developers of our projects. That means that we are here for 35 plus years,” she said. “We really want to be a part of the fabric of the community. So we know that it’s important to invest in what we believe in.”

Although approvals for both projects are still pending, both companies are promoting wind as a boon to the state’s economy with good jobs and other local investments.

Opponents object to the possible impact on the view from the beach.

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“The visual impact of these projects can no longer be denied,” said Terry McGean, city manager for Ocean City, Maryland. He’s concerned that the project will be bigger than initially planned and have an increased impact on the view from the shoreline.

Members of the public weren’t able to speak at the presentation but could ask questions via notecards. Some expressed concern for birds that migrate along Delaware’s beaches as well the North Atlantic right whale, which is a rare and endangered species.

Dunmyer said in their surveys, the number of birds seen in the area where the turbines would be built is relatively low. “Both projects are outside of the North American flyway,” he said. “The migratory birds are really not coming out where the turbines will be.”

Both projects are still collecting research and surveys as they move forward in the planning process. Final approvals will be made by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

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