Deepwater Wind Public Hearing Next Thursday

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Members of the East Hampton Town Board will be joined by the East Hampton Town Trustees next week for a public hearing on a request by Deepwater Wind to land a power cable for its proposed South Fork Wind Farm off Beach Lane in Wainscott.

The hearing will be held at LTV Studios in Wainscott at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 17.

The South Fork Wind Farm is proposed to include 12 to 15 wind turbines and be constructed 30 miles southeast of Montauk.  In December, Deepwater Wind officials said Beach Lane was the ideal location to land the cable, offering the best protection for it from erosion or damage during coastal storms. The landing site also offers the shortest route on the ground to a PSEG substation in East Hampton Village. While the two-year environmental review of the South Fork Wind Farm will be led by the New York Public Service Commission on the state level, and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the federal level, town officials must sign off on the landing of the cable before that process can begin.

Deepwater Wind has outlined a list of community benefits for the town, including the establishment of its operations and maintenance facility in Montauk, which will be in operation over the project’s 25-year life. The firm has also offered to provide $2 million for an Ocean Industries Sustainability Program to support a commercial fishing industry that has largely been critical about the potential impact the wind farm could have on its businesses. A $1 million Inshore Fisheries Fund is also proposed by Deepwater Wind, as is $75,000 each year for the life of the project to fund a Marine Infrastructure and Management Fund. Deepwater Wind has also said it will bury existing overhead utility lines along Beach Lane and Wainscott Main Street in Wainscott, and will provide $1 million to establish a Wainscott Water Infrastructure Fund. An additional $200,000 has been pledged to establish an Energy Sustainability and Resiliency Fund.

On Wednesday, East Hampton Town Trustee Rick Drew said trustees had a number of concerns about the project but wanted to hear from the public on May 17 first. “We have done a year of research, we have a lot of information, and a lot of concerns, but we are not prepared to articulate that yet,” he said. The trustees would prefer to see a lease rather than an easement if the town signs off on the landing of the cable in Wainscott, Mr. Drew said. He also said he had concerns about the ultimate cost to ratepayers, and the impact to the environment.

Concerns about future offshore wind projects abounded this week, with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) holding a meeting Monday at the Southampton Inn, where government officials expressed concerns about additional areas proposed for wind farms through BOEM off Fire Island National Seashore, and the South Fork.  The plan presented by NYSERDA highlights areas further offshore, and does not include those locations.

“The site map developed by NYSERDA for the location of wind energy projects should be the starting point for the development of a final plan,” said New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele. Jr. in a press release issued Tuesday after the meeting. “The additional areas proposed by the federal government through the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) should be rejected out of hand. The state proposal reflects a better researched approach which considers local concerns.”

“Most notably, Long Island is home to an important and vital commercial fishing industry,” added Mr. Thiele later. “No project should be approved until it is demonstrated that any harm to the industry can be avoided.”

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