Sandbridge needs answers on potential effects of wind plan – The Virginian-Pilot
Avangrid Renewables’ Kitty Hawk offshore energy project will negatively impact many residents of the greater Sandbridge area of Virginia Beach.
Avangrid’s plan calls for landing six 60 centimeter cables at Sandbridge Beach at a depth of about 40 feet. From there, the cables will be brought within 3 feet of the surface to the municipal parking lot adjacent to the Sandbridge Market and the Sandbridge Island Restaurant. To continue inland, Avangrid will construct cable conduits approximately 3 feet from the surface through this public car park and along Sandbridge Road, which is the only road in and out of the area. These cable conduits will run for more than 8 km, will cross sensitive marshes, cross the neighborhoods of Lago Mar and Ocean Lakes and will connect to the power grid of the Corporate Landing Business Park. When fully powered, these cables will carry 2,600 megawatts of electricity from the wind farm off Corolla, North Carolina to the planned power grid interface in Virginia Beach.
Unlike excessive heat and electric fields, magnetic fields emanating from high power electrical cables cannot be easily contained. The magnetic fields decrease in intensity as the distance between the cable and the observer increases. The magnetic field strength of high voltage power lines on transmission pylons is very weak when measured at ground level.
Avangrid’s plan is to bury their power lines just 3 feet below ground, and the magnetic field strength will be significantly higher at ground level. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection has proposed a magnetic field strength limit for members of the general public with built-in medical devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps, cochlear implants, etc Magnetic fields exceeding this limit could cause these implanted devices to malfunction and potentially endanger the person’s life.
At the first open house on April 6, an Avangrid spokesperson said the magnetic field would be 200 times greater than the ICNIRP-approved limit. When it was brought to their attention, Avangrid quickly disavowed that figure and on June 21 said the company’s computer modeling predicted the magnetic field strength would be equivalent to that emitted by a hair dryer. what is the truth? The public must be protected, especially the most vulnerable.
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Avangrid’s plan calls for clearcutting a 60-foot strip of trees to dig trenches for their cable conduits. This trench system will cover parts of the sensitive marshes. The electromagnetic by-products of these high-power cables could impact local flora and fauna, and the cable conduits could impact stormwater runoff.
Avangrid’s construction period includes 17 months to land the cables at Sandbridge and construct the first cable conduit to the Corporate Landing Business Park. Avangrid has promised that it will not carry out any construction during Sandbridge’s rental season (May to October). This means that the construction of the first two cables will span three calendar years. No one knows how long it will take to install the remaining four cables.
The main construction site is the public car park directly south of Sandbridge Market and Sandbridge Island Restaurant. Avangrid plans to cordon off the entire parking lot, so that these companies will not have adequate access for the delivery of goods and for the parking of customers. Putting additional financial stress on these small businesses will have a chilling effect on Sandbridge.
During this three to six year period, the quality of life for residents of Sandbridge and other affected neighborhoods will suffer. Residents, business owners and guests will have to endure the noise, vibration and dust of the long periods of construction.
Accordingly, the Sandbridge Beach Civic League strongly opposes the Kitty Hawk offshore energy project. The design as proposed poses significant health and safety concerns to Sandbridge Beach and surrounding communities. Its construction and operation will have a significant adverse environmental impact on Sandbridge Beach, Back Bay and surrounding neighborhoods. Its implementation will profoundly disrupt local businesses, tourism, recreation and the quality of life of residents, visitors and employees.
There must be a better way.
James A. Horne is a resident of Sandbridge and leads the Sandbridge Beach Civic League’s Undersea Cable Committee.