Search
Close this search box.

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Search

Public Comment Opens on DEIS for Offshore Wind Project

An aerial snapshot of the five turbines that make up Ørsted's Block Island wind farm in Rhode Island. Ørsted is the Danish company behind the Ocean Wind 1 project. 

By Vince Conti

WASHINGTON – The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on the Ocean Wind I alternative energy project off the South Jersey shore. 

The 1,408-page statement’s self-declared purpose is to assess “the reasonably foreseeable impacts on physical, biological, socioeconomic, and cultural resources that could result” from the implementation of Ocean Wind I.  

The DEIS is a required step, and one of the last major hurdles, in the federal approval process for the project. 

The release of the DEIS initiates a 45-day public comment period, which will include three virtual public hearings July 14, 20, and 26. The public comment period will close at 11:59 p.m. Aug. 8.  

The voluminous documents that are now available for public review and comment contain no summary targeted at the general public, leaving the interested public with a major task if comment is to be based on the findings of the DEIS. 

BOEM has set early 2023 for a final environmental report, followed closely by a decision on the construction plans. Actual construction is expected to start in summer 2023. 

Overview 

By now, the basic outlines of the project are familiar. Ocean Wind I would place 98 wind turbine generators (WTG) in a federally leased offshore location 15 miles off the coast in an area just south of Atlantic City. Adjacent to the lease area for Ocean Wind I is another lease area further south along Cape May County that is intended for a subsequent project, known as Ocean Wind II. 

Although the DEIS under consideration for Ocean Wind I does not speak to that future project, many residents and property owners in the county suspect that any decisions made on Ocean Wind I will lead to similar, if not identical, decisions for the leased area set aside for Ocean Wind II.  

That may give the current comment period added importance for a broader spectrum of county residents who otherwise are not in the area of the Ocean Wind I project. 

Ocean Wind I is expected to produce 1,100 megawatts of energy that will come ashore in two locations. One of those locations is expected to cross Ocean City on a path through Upper Township, ending at the former B.L. England generating station and linking to the national electric grid. The wind farm itself will also house three offshore substations. 

DEIS 

The DEIS considers the plan submitted by Ocean Wind I LLC, along with five “reasonable” alternatives. Alternatives that have been suggested and rejected are listed in an appendix. The alternatives are then looked at across almost 20 categories for evaluating environmental impact. These categories range from birds to coastal habitation and even to bats and sea turtles. 

Socioeconomic areas considered include commercial fishing, environmental justice, land use and coastal development, sea navigation and employment and economic impacts. 

A section of the impact statement considers recreation and tourism, along with scenic and visual resources. Relationship and potential impact on historic structures is also part of the category list. 

From air quality to wetlands, the numerous categories overlayed on the alternatives make the document formidable reading. There is even an appendix that lists pages of acronyms that are essential for consuming a text laden with them. 

While the voluminous report defies easy accessibility for the general public, there will certainly be plenty of room for debate. One Ocean Wind I slide presentation states, for example, that “offshore wind farms can act as attractive features of a location.” One can envision considerable disagreement. 

The virtual hearings may serve to synthesize the vast amount of material in the DEIS. Registration is required. Access to the DEIS and related documents, along with information on the three scheduled public hearings, is available on the BOEM’s website. 

To contact Vince Conti, email vconti@cmcherald.com. 

Spout Off

Villas – To Cold Spring, we had a house in Avalon for 30 years, in the 60s. We had no air because back then it wasn’t as hot as it is right now. So no this is not normal to have this extreme heat for days….

Read More

Stone Harbor – Hate to imply but could Biden really need a rest from the rigors of a 10-4 day? He’s been vaccinated and still gets Covid. Good excuse to get rebooted in Delaware.

Read More

Cape May – RE: the Avalon spouter mentioning people walking in the bike lane on Dune Drive: no need to call in the military. Relax and be thankful that Dune Drive is large enough to accommodate a bike lane and…

Read More

Most Read

Print Editions

Recommended Articles

Skip to content