8 Myths vs. Facts
Much misinformation and half-truths are being communicated regarding the massive wind project planned for the entire coast off LBI. Following is a summary of the recurring ‘myths’ being propagated by Atlantic Shores (the company planning to build and operate the wind project) and our corresponding facts. You be the judge...
The wind turbines off the coast of LBI will barely and rarely be seen from our beaches.
Unless the physics of light transmission and the mathematics of simple geometry have changed recently, the several hundred wind turbines planned for our waters will be clearly visible from our beaches. at 853-feet tall, these turbines are as tall as the Eiffel tower. For those of you who prefer a local comparison, they will be much taller than the former Revel Hotel which can clearly be seen from our beaches in Holgate. They will be installed starting at 9 miles off the southern end of LBI and 10 miles off our northern end and go out to 20 miles. Even at 20 miles a substantial part of the towers and blades will be visible. Atlantic Shores intends to populate the entire lease area off LBI with hundreds of the most powerful turbines available, and these turbines will look like a ‘wall’ of industrial structures permanently marring the beautiful view from our beaches.
The federal government -- through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) which is the agency that oversees offshore wind development -- conducts thorough environmental reviews prior to leasing an offshore site for development.
The BOEM completed a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) back in 2007 which only reviewed different sources of energy – offshore wind vs. coal vs. natural gas -- in a generic, not area-specific sense. For a specific lease area sale they conduct an environmental assessment on environmentally insignificant site survey activities to determine wind speeds and seabed composition. So, to be clear, there has been no environmental assessment of the impact of a wind farm, alternate locations for it, or the installation and operation of wind turbines on the beautiful environment off the coast of LBI, including fish and marine life, as well as commercial and recreational fishing. BOEM says they will do a full EIS project alternative analysis at the project construction point, but when that point in the process occurs they have historically reneged on that promise.
There is only one location off the coast of LBI that has been approved by the federal government for a wind project.
There is another lease area lying further off LBI known as the Hudson South Call Area. It starts at 30 miles from our shoreline and has been screened by the federal agency for all relevant wind energy factors, including visible impact, navigation, fishing conflicts, energy potential and cost of development, and recommended by them for wind energy development. Placing the turbines there would avoid the visible and economic impact problems facing LBI. It also has much more wind energy than the current lease area and it is incomprehensible why BOEM’s own recommended area is not being seriously considered as an alternative to this project. Our coalition submitted a detailed proposal to BOEM for the Hudson South area, and to date they have not responded.
Visible offshore wind turbines will not hurt shore economies and actually will be a tourist attraction.
Your own instincts will tell you this is nonsense, and that is supported by research conducted by two universities in the US. A study by North Carolina State University found that 55 percent of those who previously rented oceanfront or ocean view properties would not return to those properties if turbines were in view, even if a significant discount was offered in the rental price. Another study by the University of Delaware -- which was sponsored by BOEM -- shows that 18 percent less visits to the shore would occur if turbines were visible from our beaches. Other studies show significant losses in shore property values, ranging from $200,000 to $1 million for ocean view and ocean front properties with serious implications for all other property owners. While the wind project off Block Island is often used as an example to allay concerns about economic impact, that project consists of only five smaller turbines which is nothing compared to the hundreds of the largest turbines LBI will be facing (literally). This is not the tourist “attraction” we need or want.
Offshore wind will be a boon to the economy and create “thousands” of jobs.
While that may be true somewhere, it is not true in our case. Many of the jobs from offshore wind are taken by workers in Europe where the turbines are manufactured, by overseas workers who will come here to assemble them, and by out-of-state suppliers. New Jersey job estimates from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) Strategic plan show 1,432 full-time direct and indirect jobs created from offshore wind for a full 7500-megawatt project when contractors are selected on the basis of lowest cost to keep electric rates lower. That number rises to 4,265 jobs if contractors are selected based on other factors.
The projects currently proposed by Atlantic Shores for the coast of LBI and Orsted for the Ocean Wind project off Ocean City are both proposed at about 1000 megawatts. Therefore, the number of new direct and indirect jobs reduce to 191 and to 570 respectively for each project. So, the “thousands“ of new jobs promised from each project is a myth. In addition, the benefits of those jobs will be outweighed by losses in property values, shore tourism revenues and associated local jobs with local businesses, and by longer-term economic and job losses from even higher New Jersey electric rates.
Wind projects in Europe are highly successful and have not impacted tourism or property values.
It is true that the modern wind projects overseas have not negatively impacted tourism or property values. This is because they are located a minimum of 44 miles from shorelines and cannot be seen from their beaches. In addition, some problems are also cropping up with European offshore wind turbines. For example, new research has shown that turbine performance over the last decade has degraded rapidly over time, at about 4.5 percent per year, especially for the newer and larger wind turbines. This means reduced energy output, higher operating costs and reduced lifetimes. Another study has shown that the likelihood of major outages, lasting at least one month, has increased by at least 10 percent per year.
We must wait until the NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) makes its determination before we can learn where and how many turbines will be installed, and their size.
Recently, Atlantic Shores announced its intention to secure a power level agreement with the New Jersey BPU in June. Atlantic Shores is well aware that once that power level agreement is signed, the number, size and proximity of the turbines off LBI will be pre-determined and it hopes to lock that in. But the real issue here is that such pre-determining is improper under EIS regulations. Instead, different power levels should be assessed in the EIS and a BPU determination on power level should await the final EIS, and we will pursue that issue.
There is nothing we can do about this. It’s a ‘done deal.’
That’s not true. You can join us, along with several hundred other LBI homeowners, business owners and visitors, who are already working together to ensure this project is moved further offshore to the Hudson South Call Area! We have a strong case to make, sensibly first and if necessary, legally.
Before this project proceeds, we should fully understand the impact it will have on our environment, and other locations for the project should be considered, including the proposal for the Hudson South Call Area that we have submitted to the BOEM. We should also be confident that this wind project will not be visible from our beaches and will not result in loss of tourism or property values.
Perhaps, as was recommended by the NJ Governor’s Blue-Ribbon Panel on the Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters in 2006, we should start on a much smaller scale before committing now to the massive wind farm that is proposed. This would allow us to gain practical knowledge of the impact and benefit based on real experience with a test project off the coast of New Jersey.