💨 Ocean City, Maryland rejects millions from offshore wind company

💨 Mayor said it was payment to "silence" opposition

💨 New Jersey 101.5 asks NJ mayors if they got similar offers

As New Jersey continues to push ahead with plans to build wind turbines off the coast of the Jersey Shore, a mayor in a nearby state says local officials are accepting payments from offshore wind companies to keep their mouths shut.

A mayor in Maryland said his popular resort town was offered a community benefits package from offshore wind developer US Wind worth $2 million over 20 years. Five towns in Delaware accepted similar deals.

While Danish developer Orsted pulled out of its Ocean Wind projects off the New Jersey coast last year, several projects remain planned for New Jersey. Two projects were approved for the waters off Ocean County by the state Board of Public Utilities in January.

New Jersey 101.5 contacted the mayors of the state's most popular shore towns and cities to see if they got similar offers of community benefits packages. Read what they said below. 👇

Windfarm off the Delaware/Maryland coast

US Wind is looking to build a 1,100 MW wind farm around 11 miles off the coast of Delaware and Maryland.

The company announced community benefit packages for five Delaware coastal towns in a press release on Dec. 28, 2023. CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said the company expects it will provide power to Delaware for "a long time."

An aerial photo taken 7/16/19 in Bethany Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Gary Emeigh, File)
An aerial photo taken 7/16/19 in Bethany Beach, Del. (AP Photo/Gary Emeigh, File)

"As a member of this community, we believe it’s important to do what we can to help it thrive. These coastal towns are important to the state of Delaware and beloved by those who enjoy them. US Wind is committed to contributing to their continued health and resilience," Grabowski said.

Maryland mayor rejects offshore wind money

The mayor of Ocean City, Maryland said US Wind left out that its CEO also offered money to the resort town in December 2023. Ocean City is located just south of the Delaware coastal towns and shares the same coastline.

Mayor Rick Meehan said the community benefit packages were offered with the understanding that local officials would, in exchange, not make any negative comments about the US Wind project.

SEE ALSO: Two groups appeal selection of new NJ offshore wind projects

Ocean City, Maryland on 8/28/11 after Hurricane Irene (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Ocean City, Maryland on 8/28/11 after Hurricane Irene (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Meehan said he rejected the offer and told the CEO that the town "cannot be bought."

“I find it unconscionable that any local officials would consider payment to silence their voice on any issue that directly affects their constituents or their community,” said Meehan.

Are NJ shore towns taking hush money?

New Jersey 101.5 contacted the mayors of nine popular Jersey Shore destinations. They were asked if any offshore wind companies offered community benefit packages in exchange for silence.

John Moor, mayor of Asbury Park, said the city has "absolutely not" accepted money from offshore wind companies.

Asbury Park Convention Hall in Dec. 2021 (Mike Brant, Townsquare Media)
Asbury Park Convention Hall in Dec. 2021 (Mike Brant, Townsquare Media)

Moor said he would have given a similar response to Meehan but "maybe not as nice."

Joe Mancini, mayor of Long Beach, also said they had never received an offer.

"I was pretty vocal about being anti-windmill and would’ve loved to have had the opportunity to have them indicted if they tried," said Mancini.

Doug Vitale, mayor of Point Pleasant Beach, said the popular Jersey Shore community has not received any funding from offshore wind companies.

"Based on my, and the council’s, consistent opposition to offshore wind, I think it would be safe to say that there is no appetite to accept any funding as tacit approval of offshore wind activity in or offshore of Point Pleasant Beach now or in the future," said Vitale.

Point Pleasant Beach 7/3/2014 (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Point Pleasant Beach 7/3/2014 (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

None of the Wildwood commissioners had been contacted by offshore wind companies, according to spokesperson Lisa Fagan. She said Mayor Ernie Troiano remained opposed to offshore wind farms.

RELATED: Public opinion in NJ is turning fast on clean energy question

The mayors of six other Jersey Shore towns including Ocean City, Sea Isle City, Atlantic City, Belmar, and Cape May did not respond to press inquiries from New Jersey 101.5.

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