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Thursday, June 20, 2024

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Will DEP Kill Cape Island Wind Turbines?

By Jack Fichter

CAPE MAY — Will the state Division of Fish and Wildlife prevent tall wind turbines from being constructed in any location south of Stone Harbor to protect migratory birds and bats?
Cape May’s Energy Committee, at a July 24 meeting, discussed limitations the state may place on building a tall wind turbine anywhere on Cape Island.
Interim City Manager Bruce MacLeod, also a member of the energy committee, said the state has proposed drawing a line of demarcation 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the end of state or about six miles from the end of the Garden State Parkway for high wind turbines. Any wind turbines south of that line would have to be of limited height.
He questioned whether constructing three smaller wind turbines, as opposed to one tall windmill, would produce a favorable rate of return. MacLeod also questioned if three smaller wind turbines would be more hazardous to bird migration than one large turbine with less overall wingspan.
One large wind turbine turning at a slow speed may be safer to birds than three lower height turbines spinning at higher speed, he suggested.
Cape May Council and the Energy Committee submitted comments to the New Jersey Energy Master Plan objecting to the proposed 10-kilometer wind turbine regulation.
Member Jeff Elliot asked if that rule would be based on studies or arbitrary numbers.
MacLeod said he believed the numbers were based on migratory bird flight paths.
Energy Committee Chairwoman Charlotte Todd said the state did not have the funds to conduct testing. She said Fish and Wildlife is a division of the state Department of Environmental Protection which is encouraging wind turbine construction in South Jersey.
At a July 22 Cape May City Council meeting, Deputy Mayor Linda Steenrod said the proposed 10 kilometer rule would limit what the city could do with a wind turbine.
Cape May has looked at the possibility of a wind turbine to power the city’s desalination plant at the public works yard.
At a July 23 West Cape May Commission meeting, commissioners discussed Fish and Wildlife’s proposal.
Commissioner Dick Rigby said the borough has received a quote from a wind turbine supplier of $14,000 to construct a 50-foot turbine behind borough hall. Solar panels have been in operation for one week on the roof of borough hall and have produced a savings of $427 in electricity costs in one week.
Rigby said zoning laws would be needed to cover wind turbines.
Mayor Pamela Kaithern said there were borough residents interested in constructing wind turbines as high as 100-feet.

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