Trustees List Demands For Deepwater Wind

A tour of Deepwater Wind's wind farm off Block Island. Peter Boody photo

The East Hampton Town Trustees sent Deepwater Wind — the firm proposing a wind farm off Montauk — a letter listing the environmental studies they would like to see, and the community benefits they want the company to provide if they want permission to bring a power line ashore at Beach Lane in Wainscott.

In December, Deepwater Wind officials proposed burying power lines on Beach Lane and on a portion of Wainscott Main Street. They proposed a community benefits package that included $600,000 for marine environment and fisheries habitat improvements, $200,000 for sustainable energy projects and the guarantee it would maintain its offices in Montauk for the 25-year life of the project, among other incentives.

In the letter sent to Deepwater Wind on Monday, the trustees questioned the community benefits package, and asked the firm to provide data on the impact electromagnetic frequency emissions could have on fish.

“Throughout this process, an issue of great concern has been the landing of the power cable and the possible effect of electromagnetic frequency emission on the migration of fish,” wrote Trustee Clerk Francis Bock. “The proposed landing of the cable on the Atlantic Ocean side of East Hampton is exactly perpendicular to the seasonal travel pattern of striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, fluke and other migratory game fish upon which our local economy heavily depends. Disruption of this migration will negatively impact commercial and recreational fishing as well as the balance of our entire local marine ecosystem. We have requested you provide past studies illustrating the EMF effect on these specific fish species. This information has yet to be received. As per your own presentation, Deepwater Wind has been in talks with East Hampton officials since 2014. Three years of baseline data could have, and should have, been collected on this vital issue. As of this date, it appears no data has been collected.”

“Deepwater Wind is now requesting the Trustees agree to allow the power cable make landfall beneath a public beach in the hamlet of Wainscott. In return, you have offered a package of $600,000 in ‘community benefits’ to establish two funds directed toward the local bay men,” the letter continued. “We fail to see how this package offsets the risks we are asked to assume. At the same time, we recognize that New York State regulations will most likely over-rule, should the trustees deny access to the cable landing.”

The trustees have proposed four pages of proposed mitigation measures. Among other things they call for the creation of a Fisheries Conflict Resolution Fund for East Hampton fishermen, which would be used to provide remediation for any documented financial loses as a result of the wind farm, and to deal with potential conflicts between fishermen and the offshore wind project. It also proposes the creation of a Town Trustee Fishery Resource Assistance Fund, which would pursue shellfish enhancement and restoration, fisheries research, and study the socioeconomics of the fishery. The establishment of an East Hampton Town Trustee Aquatic Environmental Improvement Fund is also proposed. That fund would explore shellfish based environmental improvement and education, aquaculture based environmental remediation, eelgrass restoration, water quality testing, marsh replanting and phragmites control.

The Trustees also ask for the establishment of a Town Trustee historical research project, documenting and memorializing trustee history, holdings and legal proceedings, and the creation of an Infrastructure Needs Assessment, Implementation and Improvement Fund to address issues like a Landing Lane launching area, provide public kayak racks, beach access and improvement projects and more.

No specific dollar amount is earmarked by the trustees for the various funds.

In a separate letter, sent to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — the main regulatory body in the approval of the South Fork Wind Farm and the agency that will lease the offshore site to Deepwater — they ask for a field study that weighs the impact the project, and electromagnetic frequency emission, could have on the migratory fish the fishing community depends on.