Library filed under Offshore Wind from New York
Representatives of Ørsted and Eversource, the companies that will be constructing the South Fork Wind farm off Montauk, told local residents this week that the final designs for the installation call for the electrical cable to be buried far deeper below the Wainscott beach where it will emerge from the ocean than originally planned, and will require fewer of the large underground “vaults” than early designs showed.
The builder of New Jersey’s first planned offshore wind farm rejected renewed attacks by some Shore residents who fear that the sight of turbines on the horizon will keep tourists away, damage the coastal economy and erode property values.
In paperwork filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Norway-based Equinor cited the "inherent complexities of constructing and commissioning New York’s first large-scale offshore wind generating facility." It also cited delays in the "expected timelines for receiving action on key permits and governmental approvals."
Warner said he notified the Coast Guard of the devices and said he was told they were unaware of them. A Coast Guard spokesman didn’t immediately respond. DEC spokeswoman Maureen Wren said the agency requires no permits to place the devices in the water. DEC did approve a permit for Stony Brook and Cornell to "collect and possess" fish to be surgically tagged as part of the study, but the DEC was "not involved in the scheduling of the deployment of the arrays," spokeswoman Lori Severino said.
The Trustees say that they have demanded that Ørsted delay the cable installation, slated to begin in early 2023, in order to complete a second spring season worth of fish migration surveys. The company has said it will wait to “energize” the cable until after the spring 2023 fishery surveys are conducted, but cannot put off the start of cable installation between the wind farm site south of Block Island and Wainscott. “They were told directly at the time that this would be a deal breaker,” Trustees Clerk Francis Bock said on Monday morning.
The agency said negative impacts to commercial and recreational fishing would be “major” and found there would be “minor to moderate” beneficial impacts in terms of jobs and investment in the local economy. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the project, released on BOEM’s website Monday, Aug. 16, examines the potential environmental impacts of the proposal to build up to 15 wind turbines and an offshore substation in federal waters about 35 miles off the coast of Montauk. BOEM says in the FEIS that it prefers an alternative proposal to protect habitat by carefully siting just 11 turbines there.
Development of the South Fork Wind Farm off the coast of Rhode Island would have an overall "major" adverse impact on commercial fishing, according to a newly released federal study. Impacts to commercial fishing include navigational hazards from potential collisions, loss of fishing grounds and impacts from construction and operation, according to a final environmental impact statement released Monday by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
But the Fishermen's Advisory Board in Rhode Island is opposing the package, according to a report in the Providence Journal. A lawyer for the group, Marisa Desautel, said the group has "serious concerns with the lack of information provided by Orsted" about the mitigation fund, including Orsted's involvement in how it will be paid out. The compensation package, to be paid over 30 years (or reduced to $5.2 million if taken as an upfront payment), was below a scientific study that estimated potential losses to fishermen of $15 million to $40.4 million, according to the paper.
Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said she felt blindsided by the announcement and that there has been minimal communication between Equinor and fishermen. “Why didn’t this process start more organically from the beginning, in a way that actively includes fisherman, so that no one is ultimately put out of business or put into a scenario where they lose traditional historical fishing grounds that are sustainably fished and have been,” she said.
In official comments to the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) submitted July 30, 2018, New York suggested the wind turbines be no closer than 20 miles from shore. This recommendation was based upon an earlier study by BOEM that concluded that 600-foot-high turbines produced a “dominate impact “on the beach view 15 miles offshore. Adjusting for the new 50% taller turbines, the suggested distance from the shore should be 30 miles. In Europe, the closest lease area for these jumbo turbines is 44 miles out. The New York decision begs the question of why lease areas from Maryland to Massachusetts aren’t being rejected on the same merits.
The Atlantic coast contains some of the most productive fisheries in the world. BOEM is supposed to work with fisheries interests to ensure offshore wind development does not adversely affect habitat and the livelihood of fishermen. In fact, in December of last year, the Department of the Interior issued a detailed memo stating that the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act prohibits offshore wind approvals if a project would interfere with fishing. But just a few weeks ago, the administration reversed those findings.
The federal government has removed two offshore wind-energy
“Everyone is suffering from an incredible burnout over this whole process,” said Bonnie Brady, a commercial fishing advocate whose husband captains a Montauk dragger. “We’ve been fighting this battle for eight years and it doesn’t seem like we’re being listened to at all. They say ‘Oh, the fishermen are being heard,’ but the energy island they are building out there is in the heart of areas so important to fishermen from New York.” Ms. Brady said that the frantic pace to put up wind turbines is galling because by simply waiting for technology to allow the turbines to be placed further offshore, where the depth of the water is prohibitive to current turbine construction styles, the impacts to the migration routes of many marine species and the fishermen who pursue them could be greatly reduced.
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Proposed areas to the west can provide "more than enough" wind-energy capacity to meet the region's need without having to develop the off-Hamptons areas, named Fairways North and Fairways South. Public officials and fishing groups oppose windfarms in the Fairways areas, which at 15 miles from shore would be visible from beaches and some of the nation’s most expensive houses.
Opponents of the Wainscott landing proposal, led by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, have presented reams of evidence in support of having the cable brought ashore in Amagansett or Hither Hills instead of in Wainscott. The wind farm developers — the Danish energy giant Ørsted and it’s partner, the New England utility company Eversource — have argued that the Beach Lane landing would be the shortest and least disruptive route between the sea and the East Hampton substation.
A Huntington Town councilman has filed suit against a state review board and LIPA, charging they failed to get legally required approval for billions in LIPA contracts and other "projects," including the utility's pursuit of tax challenges of Long Island’s biggest power plants.
The proceeding contends the town rushed the process through without the proper review and did so in part to thwart the residents’ efforts to incorporate the hamlet as a village. It also says the developer "purchased the town’s compliance," referring to a $28.9 million community benefits package offered by the developers as part of the deal.
The East Hampton portion of the South Fork Wind Farm project would include some of the cable running beneath a beach in Wainscott, then to a power substation in East Hampton Village.
Bonnie Brady is executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association. She says the East Hampton Town Trustees should wait to see a stronger management plan for fisheries. "To date, there is not an effective fisheries mitigation plan. There is not an effective program for compensation for lost year and/or for survey work and what happens to fisherman when they aren’t allowed to fish in their areas," Brady said.