Some New Jersey residents fighting the state’s wind farm plan
New Jersey is moving forward with plans to build an enormous wind farm 20 miles off the coast, but not everybody is thrilled.
Proponents, including Gov. Phil Murphy, insist the Ocean Wind project, which calls for constructing about a hundred giant wind turbines out in the ocean over the next five years, and hundreds more in the future, will boost the state economy, create thousands of new jobs and provide enough green energy to run hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.
Tricia Conte, the founder of Save Our Shoreline, is dead set against the wind farm.
“I was initially concerned about the view,” she said. “And then the more research I did I realized there were greater issues than the view.”
She said, “In other areas where there has been green energy installed, California, Germany and Denmark, there was significant increases in the cost of electricity.”
Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said initially there will be a cost increase but “we have to take the long view on offshore wind, and it’s a huge opportunity for our state’s economy and it’s the only way we’re going to be able to fight climate change.”
He said the key thing to keep in mind is that "fossil fuels are going to become an outdated technology, and obviously they have a huge climate and air pollution cost."
Off-shore windmill visibility
Conte said another problem with the wind farm is tourists who go to the Jersey Shore may change their plans and not show up anymore.
“People have said that the wind turbines will not be visible but they will be,” she said. “That is a concern.”
O’Malley insisted it’s simply not true that wind turbines 20 miles out to sea will discourage Jersey Shore tourists.
He noted beaches are constantly packed “and that’s despite the fact that you can see big boats on the horizon, that’s despite the fact that you have the prop planes with the advertisements going by.”
Concerns with off-shore windmills and fishing
Conte said another issue is studies have shown recreational and commercial fishing would be hurt by the wind farm because it would change how fluke fish travel in the ocean.
“They won’t cross that electro-magnetic field from the miles of buried cables, and they’re calling that a fish fence," she said.
She also said construction of the wind turbines, the sound and vibration they make and the electromagnetic fields would interfere with whales’ ability to use their sonar and threaten their survival.
O’Malley said there are thousands of wind turbines in Europe and efforts will be ongoing to minimize their ecological impact here.
He stressed the biggest threat to the Jersey Shore is “sunny-day flooding and future sea level rise” caused by climate change.
But Conte argues that the wind farm is a bad idea.
“We’re being told it’s good for New Jersey, it’s good for the environment, good for the economy and good for the future of New Jersey,” she said. “We don’t feel that that is at all correct.”
Save Our Shoreline has started an online petition that currently has more than 10,000 signatures opposing the wind farm.