Tilting at windmills? Delaware offshore wind skeptic pins hopes on Massachusetts lawsuit

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Good afternoon,

To put it mildly, David Stevenson of the Glasgow-based Caesar Rodney Institute is no fan of offshore wind power, even if his home state is on the outside looking in.

It has been nearly a decade since the Bluewater Wind project off the coast at Rehoboth was shelved. At the time, the financial projections  were shaky and investors were not interested as the nation went through a painfully slow economic recovery.

Stevenson, a  former DuPont executive,  traveled to Massachusetts this week to announce a lawsuit aimed at halting the Vineyard Wind project off Martha’s Vineyard, CommonWealth Magazine reported.

Stepping outside the state to make his case is nothing new for Stevenson, an outspoken opponent of massive offshore wind developments in the Ocean City, MD area.

Delaware does have more than a passing interest in one of the OC projects.

If built, Skipjack would be located more than 16 miles off the Delaware and Maryland coasts. At one point, it appeared the powerline from the wind turbines to the grid would come ashore at Fenwick Island.  Environmental issues ended that plan.

The Massachusetts suit claims that the wind power project poses a danger to whales. 

Stevenson, not a “save the whales” kind of guy,  has focused on the impact of wind power on tourism, claiming the massive turbine towers will be visible and keep summer renters away. Wind power backers say the towers amount to a speck on the horizon. 

Massachusetts opponents are hoping that Vineyard Wind goes the way of Cape Wind. The developer of the smaller  Massachusetts wind farm walked away after dealing with formidable opposition that included the Kennedy family.

Things may be different this time around. The economics of wind power has improved, thanks in part to massive and efficient  turbines attached to towers hundreds of feet high. 

The advantages of offshore wind, including the proximity of turbines to population centers,  were outlined in a piece published by the Department of Energy during the waning days of the Trump administration.

Trump himself is no fan of wind power, claiming without a shred of  evidence during a presidential debate  turbines were  unreliable and dirty.

Meanwhile, investors are poised to pony up the billions of dollars in capital.

Some opponents are now conceding that wind projects could move 30 miles offshore to reduce any visual pollution. 

The Biden Administration is pushing hard for offshore wind as a way to fight global warming. In Maryland, Biden has an ally in Republican Gov. Larry Hogan.

Jobs are yet another attraction. While it will not take many people to maintain wind farms, construction and steel fabrication would employ thousands of people for years. It is no surprise that offshore wind was supported by  80% of respondents in a 2020 polll.

Against those headwinds, shooting for a victory in Massachusetts may be Stevenson’s best hope in his quest to slow down the momentum.

Enjoy your weekend and stay safe – Doug Rainey, chief content officer.

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