United States

United States

New Jersey county mulls legal challenge against Ørsted over Ocean Wind projects, citing tourism hit

Authorities in Cape May county, New Jersey have passed a resolution unanimously opposing Ørsted's planned Ocean Wind projects and are also considering legal action, citing a detrimental effect on tourism and a lack of public engagement on the part of the Danish renewables developer.

Authorities in Cape May County, New Jersey, claimed the Ocean Wind projects could be detrimental to tourism (Image credit: Roy Rochlin via Getty Images)
Authorities in Cape May County, New Jersey, claimed the Ocean Wind projects could be detrimental to tourism (Image credit: Roy Rochlin via Getty Images)

The resolution cited concerns about the potential impact on tourism and said Ørsted was "not interested in finding any compromise" with authorities who were trying to engage with the company over the planned wind projects.

Resolution 314-23 was passed unanimously on Thursday (25 May) by the county’s board of commissioners, who declared they were united in opposing them.

Ocean Wind One is a 1.1GW offshore wind project currently in the planning process, earmarked for waters 24km off Long Beach, New Jersey according to Windpower Intelligence, the data and research division of Windpower Monthly. Ocean Wind Two is a 1.1GW offshore site planned around 24km of the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Tourism hit

The county’s tourist industry — valued at around $7.4 billion annually — could lose up to $1.1 billion as a result of the projects according to the board of commissioners.

They claimed that, because the turbines at Ocean Wind One are expected to be visible from the Cape May shoreline, up to 15% of tourists could be put off from visiting the county as a result.

They also alleged that the company had repeatedly failed to offer compromises to residents and authorities in the area, who have expressed concerns about its potential impact.

Len Desiderio, director of the board, said: "As time went by, it became clear that Ørsted was not interested in finding any compromise.  It is clear to us now that the approach among this foreign corporation and their partners in the state and federal governments is to build these things as fast as they can despite the potential for devastating environmental and economic impacts.  On behalf of the people of Cape May County, we will not let that happen without a fight.”

New Jersey state has a target to install 7.5GW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2035.

'Legal challenge'

The resolution now opposing Ocean Wind One authorised the “reasonable use of all County resources to oppose the Ørsted  windmill projects”, and added: “The County of Cape May is engaged in a review of state and federal permitting processes with an eye toward possible legal challenges.”

Ørsted was contacted but had not responded at the time of publication.

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