Ocean City Today

City Council brings Bereano on board for turbine trouble

Lobbyist contracted for year at $65K to slow wind farms
By Katie Tabeling | Sep 28, 2017
File Photo A map of the two proposed wind farms, U.S. Wind to the south, and Deepwater Wind to the north. Deepwater Wind was approved to put turbines 17-21 miles off shore, and U.S. Wind could be built 12-15 miles off the coast.

(Sept. 29, 2017) Resort officials hired prominent Maryland lobbyist Bruce Bereano earlier this month to help get out a simple message about wind farms: move them out of sight.

“I’d rather have him working for us than against us,” Councilman Wayne Hartman said. “It’s important to make it clear that we’re not against the wind farms. It can be done in a way that works for everyone.”

Bereano, who has lobbied state lawmakers for special-interest groups for three decades, is the second-highest paid lobbyist in Annapolis. He was interviewed and hired by the mayor and council during a lengthy closed session on Sept. 12. The vote to bring on Bereano was apparently unanimous.

Bereano signed a one-year contract for $65,000, which expires on Aug. 31, 2018. The contract includes a cap of $750 for expenses, such as mileage and parking fees.

Councilmen Tony DeLuca and Matt James said Bereano’s experience would be crucial in Ocean City’s fight to move the turbines 23 miles offshore.

“There is one chance to do this right, and there’s no one better at a state and federal level,” DeLuca said. “He knows everyone in Annapolis, he has the reputation, and he’s the right man for the job.”

“He’ll be helpful to get our stance out there,” James added. “A lot of people ask us [the council] why we’re against green energy – and we’re not. We just don’t want to see the turbines.”

When the Public Service Commission (PSC) approved two wind farm projects off the coast of Ocean City, many voiced concerns over the potential visual pollution the turbines could create. The U.S. Wind project involves 62 turbines at a capacity of 248 megawatts in the downtown waters, while Deepwater Wind would build 15 turbines near the Delaware-Maryland border.

PSC’s conditional approval ignored the City Council’s repeated petitions to put the turbines 23 miles off the beach. Deepwater Wind was approved to put turbines 17-21 miles off shore, and U.S. Wind could be built 12-15 miles off the coast.

U.S. Wind’s project, which greatly alarmed some officials because of its downtown location and proximity, would need to be “as far east in the lease area as reasonable,” according to the PSC approval.

Supporters in Ocean City and Maryland say the wind farms would show progress that the state is moving to renewable energy sources.

A recent poll by Goucher College showed 75 percent of 671 Maryland residents surveyed said seeing wind turbines on the horizon from the beach would make “no difference” regarding their decision to vacation in Ocean City.

Twelve percent of people said the turbines would make them “most likely” to vacation in the resort.

Hartman said the council’s concern is for the people that invest in Ocean City’s property.

“There’s people here that buy a second home and pay a lot of money to see that sunrise on the beach. Putting turbines between that person and the sunrise will obstruct the view,” he said. “We don’t know what the impact will be, and we don’t want that fear.”

Wind energy representatives estimated the cost to move the turbines back at $1 million per mile, to extend transmission lines.

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