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Blue state rejects free electricity to avoid seeing a wind farm

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Put out the NIMBY alert for Maryland. This very blue state is, of course, largely onboard with the entire “keep it in the ground” movement to abandon fossil fuels and embrace renewable energy. Unless, of course, you want to generate any of that electricity within sight of the state’s tony coastal communities. In Ocean City, Maryland, an energy company called U.S. Wind has plans in place to develop the second largest wind farm in the country offshore there, taking advantage of the almost constant breezes which blow in off the Atlantic. The amount of renewable electricity it would generate would be impressive indeed.

There’s just one problem. The locals don’t want any wind turbines within thirty miles of the coast for fear that it might obstruct the view and cut into tourism. U.S. Wind tried to tempt them by offering to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars into other community development projects as an incentive. The locals said no. The company offered to build in a guarantee that they would cover any unanticipated cost overruns so Ocean City wouldn’t be stuck with the tab. The natives still wouldn’t relent. The final offer was truly incredible. The developers offered to provide Ocean City with free electricity for the life of the wind farm.

Their response? Sorry. Still not interested. (Baltimore Sun)

Ocean City officials say they don’t want offshore wind turbines to be built within 30 miles of the resort town’s beaches under any circumstances — not even in exchange for free electricity.

That was among the offers energy developer U.S. Wind recently made to appease concerns that its planned wind farm off Maryland’s coast will harm tourism.

The company also dangled other community investments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and volunteered to alter its plans if Ocean City agreed to cover any new costs.

None of that was adequate to allay fears that tourists will abandon Ocean City and flock to other beaches if Maryland’s horizon is dotted with towering wind turbines, though. Town leaders rejected the offer, Ocean City Mayor Rick Meehan said.

The major problem that Ocean City has here is that the final decision really isn’t up to them. The Maryland Public Service Commission already signed off on the project and the final authority for such offshore developments usually lies with the federal government. All they can do is fight it in court and attempt to bog down the process while they look for a sympathetic judge to take their side. In the end, they may wind up losing out and seeing the wind farm built anyway without collecting any of the goodies that the developer was offering.

This is a classic case of NIMBYism taken to its extremes. Maryland’s liberal elites are all in favor of punishing fossil fuel companies and lecturing everyone on the need for cleaner, more “responsible” energy policies. But when the time comes to actually start generating all of the clean electricity, they don’t want those nasty turbines cluttering the few from the coast.

Maryland isn’t the only place this is happening. In Vermont, one of the greenest of the green refuges, there is a state mandate to shift almost entirely to wind energy over the next decade. But at the same time, outraged residents have convinced their state legislators to enact some of the most restrictive laws on wind turbines in the nation. The machines must be “as quiet as a public library” and have to be set back from residences and roads by at least ten times the height of the tower. Since most of the towers in use are at least 500 feet tall, that means they have to find places to install them that are literally a mile away from anything. Wind energy developers have described themselves as being “ready to give up on Vermont.”

And all the while, American continues to expand their lead as the dominant global force in petroleum and natural gas production. It’s a funny old world, isn’t it?

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