US Wind’s proposed turbine array off Maryland and Delaware is the focus of the Biden administration’s 10th environmental assessment of East Coast wind power projects, with the first online public meetings to be held in late June.

Potentially numbering up to 121 turbines and 2,000 megawatts of power capacity, US Wind’s plan could include four offshore substation platforms. Export cables carrying power from the substations to shore would have landfalls in the Delaware Seashore State Park, or at the seaside resort of Rehoboth Beach, Del.

This week the Department of Interior is publishing a notice of its plan to prepare an environmental impact statement for US Wind’s construction and operations plan. US Wind holds a lease from the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that lies about 10 nautical miles east of Ocean City, Md., and 9 miles from Sussex County on Delaware’s Atlantic shore.

Plans by US Wind and Ørsted to develop wind power off the Delaware, Maryland and Virginia coastline of the mid-Atlantic have stirred support from some business groups in Maryland’s Eastern Shore region – and determined opposition from Ocean City officials and allied tourism businesses, who say the presence of turbines near the ocean horizon will discourage summer visitors.

Fishermen have objected vigorously too, saying that offshore survey work by the developers’ geotechnical contractors has damaged their gear and effectively denied them use of longtime fishing grounds for conch and black sea bass.

At an April 5 meeting with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council, BOEM Director Amanda Lefton heard those complaints firsthand from fishermen in the room. In announcing the start of the environmental impact process, Lefton said “we look forward to receiving input from our government partners, ocean users and other stakeholders, which is critical to a successful environmental review process.” 

The publication of BOEM’s notice of intent opens a 30-day public comment period through July 8 that will help BOEM determine the scope of its environmental review.

Three virtual public scoping meetings will be held in the early phase of the process:

- Tuesday, June 21, at 5 p.m. Eastern

- Thursday, June 23, at 5 p.m.

- Monday, June 27, at 1 p.m.

BOEM’s website has information about the US Wind proposal, information on how people can comment and instructions on registering for the virtual public meetings.

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.

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