|FYI — December 2003|
|By Brad Dunn|
If you think it’s a pain to navigate through a network of lobster traps, try giant offshore windmills. Boaters in New Jersey may soon encounter such an obstacle course.
In October the state took a step closer to its goal of installing dozens of wind-powered turbines about three miles offshore between Monmouth and Cape May. After two years of preliminary planning, the state’s Board of Public Utilities awarded a $300,000 grant to Atlantic Renewable Energy Corporation, based in Richmond, Virginia, to research the viability of offshore wind energy systems.
The company’s proposal includes 35-story windmills costing about $1.5 million apiece with blades that would swoop 325 feet in the air. The state hopes that a wind farm of 25 turbines will produce up to 20 percent of its power by 2020.
Finding themselves unlikely allies, however, many recreational boaters, commercial fishermen, and environmentalists have voiced strong opposition to the project. “This idea is nothing short of abominable. Boaters hate it, and they won’t let it happen,” says Ernest Utsch III, owner of Utsch’s Marina in Cape May. “This state’s track record on marine issues is horrible. At this rate, you’re going to see a recall election on this side of the country real soon.”
Conservation groups that have come out against the plan include the New Jersey Audubon Society, which has pointed to the damage that the windmills could wreak on fish and sea bird populations. “On top of the environmental concerns, these structures would take up an enormous amount of water space used by recreational boaters and commercial fishermen,” explains Tim Dillingham, executive director of the American Littoral Society, a coastal conservation group based in Sandy Hook. “I’m a boater myself, and the idea that we’ll be able to navigate through these windmills is simply not a reality. The whole area would have be closed off.”
Though the state will continue to research the feasibility of wind as a renewable energy source, soon residents will be able to voice their concerns at a series of public forums.
If you’d like to get your boat on a bottle, call him and send in a picture of your boat’s profile, and you’ll have a champagne showpiece that you’ll never uncork.
David Sugar Phone: (914) 954-4170. www.innerlightcrystal.com.
This article originally appeared in the November 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.