Concerns Raised Over Fenwick Connection in Wind Energy Plan Off - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Concerns Raised Over Fenwick Connection in Wind Energy Plan Off Delaware Coast

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Proposed improvements and a wind farm transmission facility planned for Fenwick Island State Park. (State of Delaware) Proposed improvements and a wind farm transmission facility planned for Fenwick Island State Park. (State of Delaware)

FENWICK ISLAND, Del.- Amy Kyle's family has had connections to the Fenwick Island area for generations and she frequently enjoys visiting the beach inside the state park that bears the town's name.

But Kyle said she's concerned for the park and greater community because of discussions involving the State of Delaware and a Danish company seeking to build a transmission facility for an offshore wind farm --- in exchange for $18 million in improvements like increased parking capacity.

"They're taking a lot of money from the public and there hasn't been any input," she said.

Concerns over the proposal have prompted state lawmakers to call for a public meeting Tuesday in night in Sussex County to give information to residents about Orsted Energy's plans to connect wind turbines roughly 17 miles off the coast of southern Delaware to a facility in Fenwick Island State Park.

State officials have said they are considering the proposal in part because Orsted has pledged to pay for significant improvements to the park, including more parking spaces, new buildings and recreational areas, and self-service parking fee collections machines that are aimed at improving visitors' experience and safety at the park.

WBOC has obtained a copy of the memorandum of understanding between the state and Orsted that outlines some of the expectations both sides are seeking in discussions about the project. The agreement is non-binding but specifies specific amenities and spending levels sought by the state.

Some critics on the Fenwick Island Society of Homeowners, including Kyle, have pointed out that DNREC signed the agreement in July, months before a public meeting was held in October on the matter.

Kyle believes the state needs to carefully consider the proposal and concerns raised by the public about offshore wind energy that could potentially disrupt the environment and discourage some visitors from coming to the park and beach community.

"There is research that suggests the lights and infrastructure can deter people can coming to an area --- or else, they just want to pay less," she said.

Despite some of the specifics outlined in the agreement, DNREC Secretary Shawn Garvin emphasized to WBOC that the MOU merely means DNREC and Orsted will continue discussions on the company's proposal.

Garvin noted that the public comment period on the plan had also been extended into December to accommodate additional thoughts from people about how the state should proceed.

"No decisions have been made. Nothing is set in stone. Even the drawings we provided to the public were just conceptual to get the dialogue beginning," he said.

Some people have embraced the proposed improvements at the park.

Rich King, an outdoors enthusiast and owner of the website Delaware Surf Fishing, said he is generally supportive of what is being proposed by Orsted in terms of improved amenities.

During the summer, King said the existing facilities are overburdened by the number of visitors to the area and cars queued in line for parking often spill into the street.

"We're going to get an upgraded park that isn't going to cost the State of Delaware a dime and all we have to do is maintain it and make money off of it," he said.

But Kyle worries the state is not necessarily moving with residents' best interests as a priority while it considers whether to let Orsted make Fenwick Island State Park its connection spot for offshore wind turbines.

"I'm open-minded about it," she said. "I support wind in general but I'm very concerned about how this has come down."

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