Students Speak Out at Local Wind Energy Meeting
Students Speak Out at Local Wind Energy Meeting
Liz Torrey

On Monday, November 27, Alex Horgan '18, Director of Sustainability Diana Burk, and Eleri Phillips '21 (seen here left to right) attended a public meeting of the Delaware Offshore Wind Working Group. The working group held the meeting to take public comments on whether Delaware should approve the development of offshore wind energy projects, such as those recently approved by Maryland.

All three representatives from St. Andrew's made comments at the meeting. Horgan mentioned the need to assess not only the impact of offshore wind energy projects on our local oceans, but also the environmental impact of what would happen to our oceans if offshore wind energy is not utilized (i.e.,the impact of drilling for more oil, or the general climate impact on our oceans).

Burk commented that the working group should take into account the considerable public health benefits and climate benefits of offshore wind farm projects for Delaware, which according to the peer-reviewed literature, would likely exceed the initial costs of the projects for the public.

Phillips read from comments prepared by St. Andrew's science faculty Peter McLean, which were also signed and submitted by the student body. His comments read as follows:

Anticipated growth in Delaware, especially in Sussex County, has implications for energy and its consumption; in that we will have twice the energy need in less than thirty-five years, our wisest plan is to protect ourselves and the remaining landscape by choosing a renewable, non-polluting energy source like wind. Though the conventional price for wind power is about the same as that produced from fossil fuels, the cost for renewables like wind is far less once savings are appreciated, that is, savings from no air and water pollution, from no mercury and other emitted toxics, from no pollution-related health issues. We are slow to appreciate the value to the world's ecosystem services, of which wind is a part.

Please do all you can do to consider our future. Native Americans make decisions as to how the outcomes will affect their people seven generations hence. I suggest we follow their lead, this wise example; no doubt, our grandchildren will be glad we found the moral courage to do what is wisest and right for this and future generations.

"At the workshop, we also heard from a few anti-wind voices," said Burk. "One local climate change skeptic accused Alex and Eleri of being ignorant of the impact of wind. However, after his comments, several others in the room, including experts from the University of Delaware and the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, commended Alex and Eleri for speaking up."

"The students were clear voiced and articulate and stated their case well," said Bruce Williams, a local wind energy consultant. "They pointed out the dangers of climate change and fossil fuel pollution, and the responsibility of the current generation for future generations—times seven!"

After the meeting, Horgan was interviewed by local radio station Delaware Public Media, and his comments were aired on the radio the next morning. "We really have to assess the impact of these wind turbines but we also have to realize the minimal impact in the construction is way less impacting on the environment than the impact of continued use of fossil fuels in the long term," Horgan said in the interview. You can listen to or read the full radio piece on the Delaware Public Media website.

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