By MADDY VITALE
Grace Forbes lives in Ocean City half of the year and Georgia the other. She is not only worried about what would happen if a proposed wind farm is built 15 miles off the South Jersey coast, but what it could mean for other projects like it up and down the coast.
Forbes attended a protest of preliminary work along the 35th Street corridor in Ocean City for an underground transmission cable that would link wind turbines with a land-based electric grid at the former B.L. England power plant in Upper Township, essentially setting the project in motion.
“I’m here with my sign today because I am worried,” Forbes said as she held a sign that read, “Save The East Coast.” “I know it is going to move up the East Coast.”
Orsted is a Danish wind energy company proposing to construct, Ocean Wind 1. The project would set 98 towering turbines in the ocean 15 miles off the coast between Atlantic City and Stone Harbor, passing by Ocean City, Sea Isle City and other beach towns in the process.
Forbes was joined by about 15 other protesters, some from Ocean City, others from areas north where other proposed wind farm projects also by Orsted, are in the planning stages.
On Tuesday, six of about 60 protesters were arrested for disorderly persons offenses for refusing to leave the work site area, the southern side of 35th Street between Asbury Avenue and Central Avenue.
The “sit in” held up workers from doing test drilling for the transmission line for half the day on Tuesday.
On Friday, Jeff Platenyk, of Point Pleasant in Ocean County, used a megaphone to let his voice be heard by the workers across the street.
“We are here today to show our solidarity,” Platenyk said in an interview as he took a brief pause from the megaphone. “We all love our beaches and our ocean and we don’t want wind farms.”
Two Ocean City police officers stood watch to make sure protesters stayed in their designated spot and workers could continue their work.
Opponents believe the project would cause irreversible harm to the environment and Cape May County’s tourism-dependent economy. They have blamed a series of whale and dolphin deaths in recent months on sonar mapping of the seabed for the wind farm, although Orsted has denied any connection.
Donna Zucker, of Mystic Island in Ocean County, said people are ill-informed about the project.
“People believe the propaganda and they are not doing their research on the harm that the wind farm can cause,” Zucker said.
For people like Steve Flogaus, of Ocean City, and Brody Bauer, of Upper Township, both Protect Our Coast NJ members, attended the peaceful protest.
“The police are doing their job,” Flogaus said. “I just know I am against the project and I will do what I can do. We will almost stop at nothing.”