It wasn’t exactly a pledge but Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc did tell a record crowd at the Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee’s meeting on Saturday that he doubted the Town of East Hampton would allow the transmission cable for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm to come ashore at Beach Lane until a full “Article 7” review of the overall project is completed by the New York State Public Service Commission.
Pressed by former CAC member Si Kinsella to promise that no easement would be granted until the PSC review is complete, Mr. Van Scoyoc acknowledged “there have been a lot of changes” in the plan in recent months, including a new owner and an increase in proposed output from 90 to 130 megawatts.
“Initially, I did not think we needed the Article 7 process completed to sign” an easement agreement, said Mr. Van Scoyoc. “I’m no longer sure that’s the way to go,” he added. “We think that process will probably complete before we sign any agreement.”
There was a delay in the crowd’s reaction as CAC member Rick Del Mastro continued to pepper Mr. Van Scoyoc with critical questions. But after Councilman Jeff Bragman, the Town Board’s liaison to the Wainscott CAC and a thorn in Mr. Van Scoyoc’s side over the wind farm and other issues, turned the crowd’s attention back to what the supervisor had just said.
“That’s a big deal,” he commented.
With no Article 7 review yet scheduled because the wind farm application is still incomplete, Mr. Van Scoyoc’s prediction means it could be a long time, perhaps years, before the town would agree to grant a cable easement that would extend from Beach Lane and through Wainscott to the Cove Hollow LIPA substation.
Mr. Bragman has clashed with Mr. Van Scoyoc and two other Town Board members, Sylvia Overby and Kathee Burke Gonzales — all fellow Democrats — who voted 3-2 last year to allow easement discussions to begin and again in February by the same margin to let the new owner of the former Deepwater Wind project, Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, conduct test borings along the Beach Lane cable route.
Just last month, Eversource of New England announced it had purchased a 50-percent share in the former-Deepwater, now-Orsted project.
Mr. Bragman has argued that the town lacked the expertise and funding to properly assess all the economic and environmental impacts of the project and had no reason to grant Deepwater or its successors anything until the state review of the project was completed.
“My view is the project is either under the state’s jurisdiction or not,” he told the CAC crowd on Saturday. “A major focus will be alternatives. My point is we shouldn’t be doing any business with the applicant outside of” the PSC review.
Mr. Van Scoyoc has argued — and continued to do so before the CAC Saturday — that the town was “not committing to anything” in opening talks or allowing test borings to proceed.
“The board is not representing our citizens,” said a man in the audience Saturday. “We need this board to go back and correct” its votes. “What’s motivating these 3-to-2 votes is beyond me,” he said.
“You let the rooster into the henhouse,” said Mr. Del Mastro, with those two Town Board 3-2 votes.
The crowd was there to hear State Legislator Fred W. Thiele Jr., who came to address the CAC about the wind farm and other issues. He made headlines last month that proclaimed he had withdrawn his support for the project by scolding Orsted publicly for a lack of transparency and honesty.
Asked if he would have allowed the company to conduct test borings, Mr. Thiele drew laughs when he said, “I’m going to leave that to the Town Board. I know my jurisdiction.”
But he added, “I’m not taking a position until the Article 7 is complete — and I think that answers your question.”
Mr. Thiele said he would be introducing legislation in Albany this week to require LIPA, which signed an agreement with Deepwater to buy electricity from the proposed wind farm, to make the terms of the contract public. LIPA refuses to release it and, under its terms, has barred Deepwater — now Orsted — from releasing it.