Some Ocean City homeowners display anti-wind farm signs on their lawns.

NJ - Wind Farm Public Hearing Draws Passionate Statements

Residents of Ocean City overwhelmingly opposed an offshore wind energy farm during a virtual public hearing Monday night that also included strong support for the project from environmental and labor groups.

Opponents criticized the proposed Ocean Wind 1 project by the Danish energy company Orsted, saying it will harm environmentally sensitive areas, hurt tourism, threaten wildlife, migratory birds and marine life and create a visual eyesore on the horizon.

Claiming that wind energy represents the future, proponents said the project will create thousands of jobs and represents the type of green renewable energy needed to combat climate change and rising sea levels.

The hearing via Zoom stretched on for more than two and a half hours. The purpose of the hearing was to hear from the public about Orsted’s intention to run an underground transmission line that would cut through environmentally sensitive wetlands and beach lots in Ocean City to connect the offshore wind farm to the land-based power grid.

Orsted needs easements for the preferred route and currently the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is deciding on the matter after attorneys argued for Cape May County and Ocean City on Thursday via a virtual hearing.

“I speak for Protect Our Coast NJ,” Ocean City resident Suzanne Hornick said in public comments at Monday’s virtual hearing. “We don’t want this in any way, shape or form. This should be a question and answer. We should be able to ask questions.”

The original format for the hearing was to be a question-and-answer session, but Orsted did not respond to comments or questions posed by the public Monday. Instead, Orsted representatives said the company will respond in writing after the end of the public comment period for the project on Nov. 28.

Critics angrily accused Orsted of running a “sham” hearing.

“This whole thing is a farce,” said Hornick, who has been one of the most outspoken opponents of the wind farm and of Orsted. “We believe that the BPU already voted to approve this project, so why are we being asked what we think?”

She continued, “It is wrong to not face the public when you want to deface and defile the island.”

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