More New Jersey residents and Shore visitors favor development of offshore wind energy power plants than oppose them, and the margin grows wider if the turbine towers are to be installed farther offshore and out of sight, according to a newly released public opinion report.
Support for offshore windmills was strongest in Monmouth County, where 58 percent of people interviewed at beach locations said they could live with rotors and towers on the sea horizon, according to the poll commissioned by the state Commerce, Economic Growth and Tourism Commission.
"Overall, the study found that people favored wind power," said commission spokeswoman Karen Wolfe.
Skeptics and supporters are drawing different conclusions from the public opinion report, which was released Friday by the commerce commission and discussed Monday at a state energy master plan meeting. Based on interviews with beachgoers in the four Atlantic coastal counties during July and August, the report showed that on balance there's support for building offshore turbines, by margins that increase with the distance from shore.
"It's exactly what I said after I did my own survey two years ago," said Michael Mercurio of Island Wind, a private wind research and development firm. "Line of sight is about eight miles out in the ocean . . . About 80 percent of people are in favor as long as they don't see it."
"Because of haze and the curvature of the earth, they're not very visible three to five miles offshore," said Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club, which has supported wind power.
Having a bunch of coastline and medium-bad air quality, wind is something we should be using. Sounds like folks have come to realize that.
Before you shout, "But what about the birds?" read this, and this, and while you're at it, this. To sum up: bird mortality from wind turbines doesn't compare to the numbers that are killed by power lines, buildings, cars & trucks, or anything else. Migratory birds, the ones who would be offshore here Jersey, quickly learn to fly around wind farms. I hope having a cleaner environment will impact birds positively, as well.