Wind Farm Development off the Coast of Maryland:
Trouble on the Horizon? How should Ocean City navigate conflicting opinions on wind farm development?
Off the coast of Maryland, wind turbines have the potential to generate green energy and jobs for the state at the cost of threatening the local tourist economy and altering the scenic beauty of the coast irreversibly.
This case will examine the attitudes towards the approved US Wind “MarWin” project off the coast of Ocean City, Maryland. Ideally, these 22 turbines located approximately 17 miles from shore will be fully operational by 2025 (US Wind). These wind turbines will produce clean energy at a low cost for the state of Maryland, create thousands of jobs, and stimulate the economy through business development funds. Despite these benefits, there has still been significant local pushback against the permanent alteration of the view. Ocean City residents are concerned about the turbine's potential consequences on the tourism industry, which in 2015, generated $1,466,200,000 (Oxford Economics). Certain environmentalists have also cited concerns over the turbines' effect on marine life, although the general consensus of environmentalists emphasize the transition to renewable energy due to the impending climate crisis. However, most critique is in regards to damaging the horizon's aesthetic beauty--the untouched skyline soon to be dotted with towering metal figures. This case study begs the questions: how do we protect certain environmental values when its protection involves fundamentally changing it? How do we balance global best interest with local values? What are the consequences of transitioning to renewable energy?