Caren Fitzpatrick, Atlantic County nCommissioner and senate candidiate, speaks in favor of wind power at a recent event. (Photo by Salena Vazquez, staff reporter).

NJ - Locals voice support for wind power, if quietly

OCEAN CITY — To hear the comments of many local officials, it seems like the area’s opposition to wind power development along the coast is steadfast and unanimous.

A drive around the area leaves a similar impression, with houses displaying opposition to offshore wind power projects via yard signs throughout the shore communities. From those displays, from public comments and from participation in meetings related to offshore wind proposals, it appears that most beach town residents remain skeptical of the plans.

But just as some state Democratic leaders express concerns about the proposals, some shore town residents have come forward recently in support of wind power.

At two recent public meetings, a resident of Strathmere and a resident of Ocean City stood before the governing bodies of their respective communities to say changes to the global climate are an existential threat, and using wind to generate power may be a vital step toward addressing the issue.

“I don’t see any viable alternatives to the windmills in order to be a replacement to fossil fuels,” Sheila Hartranft told Ocean City Council at its most recent meeting.

Hartranft said she has not heard any alternatives presented by wind power opponents to reduce the emission of carbon from fossil fuels that most scientists link to a warming world and rising sea temperatures. She added most of those standing against offshore wind turbines have not spoken against other activities around the world that harm marine life.

She said she was not a scientist or an expert.

“I am, however, for, with the proper research, anything that will help our oceans and this island,” Hartranft said.

There was no response from council. Members typically do not respond to comments from the public.

Elaine Holsomback, of Strathmere, spoke in favor of offshore wind at last week’s meeting of the Upper Township Committee. She said she was not advocating for one solution or another, but said action needs to be taken to reduce carbon from human sources in the atmosphere, citing wildfires in Hawaii as an indication of climate change.

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