East Hampton Town Board Splits on Wind Farm Soil Sample Request

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The East Hampton Town Board narrowly approved a resolution last week to allow Deepwater Wind to conduct geotechnical and archaeology soil sampling along roadways the company is pursuing in Wainscott as a potential route for its power cable for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm.

It was also announced late last week that Eversource, New England’s largest energy company and an electric transmission builder, is paying approximately $225 million for a 50 percent interest in Ørsted’s Revolution Wind and South Fork Wind Farm projects and in the rest of the company’s 257-square-mile federal lease area off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Ørsted acquired those assets in November when it bought Deepwater Wind for $510 million.

According to a joint press release issued on Friday, February 9, the deal builds on the companies’ “Bay State Wind partnership,” a 50-50 collaboration on a separate 300 square-mile ocean tract adjacent to the Deepwater Wind area that could eventually host “at least 4,000 megawatts of offshore wind.”

“We are excited to have Eversource join us as we embark on the creation of the strongest U.S. offshore wind platform,” said Thomas Brostrøm, the CEO of Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind and president of Ørsted North America. “With their expansive knowledge of the energy market throughout the region, and by building on both companies’ community outreach programs, we are on track to ensure that the Northeast will be the North American hub for offshore wind energy.”

“Offshore wind will provide a growing and critical source of zero-carbon energy in a region with very aggressive carbon reduction and renewable energy goals,” said Lee Oliver, Eversource’s executive vice president for enterprise energy strategy and business development. “This transaction solidifies our partnership as the strongest developer of offshore wind in the Northeast and is consistent with Eversource’s efforts to be a key catalyst for clean energy development in our region.”

The South Fork Wind Farm project — a 15 turbine wind farm proposed roughly 30 miles southeast of Montauk — will continue to move forward as planned, the companies’ said in their release. Deepwater Wind, if approved by state and federal regulators, is anticipated to be completed by 2022.

Meanwhile, members of the East Hampton Town Board last Thursday were once again divided on a resolution involving the South Fork Wind project. The board ultimately voted, 3-2, in support of a resolution that would give the company permission to conduct soil sampling along a proposed cable route starting on Beach Lane in Wainscott, continuing down Wainscott Main Street to Sayre’s Path, to Wainscott Stone Road, to Wainscott Northwest Road, and ultimately leading to a power substation off Cove Hollow Road.

The shovel test pits will be dug at approximately 50- to 100-foot intervals adjacent to existing pavement and within the road right-of-way, will be approximately 18 inches in diameter and about four feet deep, according to the town board resolution granting the company the right to conduct the tests.

Both Councilmen Jeffrey Bragman and David Lys voted against the resolution, stating they thought the town should wait until the project’s review with the state’s Public Service Commission is completed, or until that body — leading the state’s environmental review of the project — requests the samples as a part of its investigation.

“I don’t know why we are giving a head start to Wainscott,” said Mr. Bragman. “They don’t want it and a lot of questions about this project remain unanswered.”

Supervisor Peter van Scoyoc did furnish a letter from Deepwater Wind stating it would be conducting similar sampling at a second potential cable landing location in Hither Hills, although that work would not begin until the summer. Performing the work in Wainscott in the summer, said Mr. van Scoyoc, was something he did not believe any board members would support.

“I think the more we learn about the geotechnical data of those borings inform us about the landing at this particular location,” argued Mr. van Scoyoc. “I see no problem in getting more information. More information is good.”

“We may learn more information that says this is the exact wrong location if we learn there are archeological problems or some geotechnical problems,” said councilwoman Sylvia Overby. “It may take it off the table completely.”

“I think it is preemptive for us to go out and allow this to happen without getting more information from the PSC,” said Mr. Lys.

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