Are Offshore Wind Developers Responsible For Fishing Gear Damaged In A Wind Farm?

The short answer is YES. It is the law. South Coast Reporter Nadine Sebai has been extensively covering the issue.

You can ask her direct questions here: Fill out this form.

In spite of the fears voiced by some fishermen, its interesting that major offshore cables have been in existence in the Long Island sound and the New York Harbor for over 20 years. Initial concerns about dangers to the fishing and shell fishing industries in the relevant areas have not materialized. Its strange that no one talks about this… Check my earlier post on this story.

Coming to a seafloor near you

“In 2016, when an oil tanker off the British mainland came upon a patch of stormy weather near the Channel Islands, it dropped anchor to wait things out. Moments later, internet speeds on the UK island of Jersey plummeted.

It turns out, as the anchor hit bottom, it snagged a few network cables on the seafloor and severed them, leaving internet users across the island temporarily out of access.

Internet cables aren’t the only form of underwater wiring vulnerable to snags on the seafloor. High voltage cables supplying power from the mainland to offshore wind farms are also easy targets if they’re not adequately protected. These black, rubber-coated cables are not the most glamorous components of offshore wind—but they’re critical veins of power that wind operators, developers, and coastal communities rely on to keep this brand new source of clean energy in the U.S. going.”

Now there is new way of checking existing cables for damage as reported by Evan Lubovsky and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. It makes use of autonomous underwater vehicles!

Researchers test ocean robots to make subsea cable surveys faster and cheaper

South Fork Wind Farm

Offshore wind farm
From https://www.flickr.com/photos/thomsonecology/15079751399/

Submitted by Alice Tepper Marlin. (letter to the editor of the EH Star, July 2019)

The wind farm proposed to be sited out of sight, 35 miles off our shores, can make a significant contribution to slowing the climate change that so threatens our beautiful seaside community and all life on our precious, unique planet. It is crucial to our town commitment to be powered 100% by renewables by 2030.

To my consternation, opposition is being skillfully fomented by a few individuals who, for various self-interested reasons, loudly promote misinformation and even disinformation about the project and the company behind it, sowing unwarranted fear and distrust.

The brouhaha is over the onshore route of the transmission line carrying the wind-generated electricity from the turbines to the East Hampton substation. The entire line will be under ground. I have seen the equivalent on Block Island, and it is hardly noticeable. All you can see are occasional manhole covers.

Yes, there would be a few months of wintertime construction for installation, but the route from Wainscott is only four miles long and half of it is in the railroad corridor. So this disruption is in no way a big deal. Just a few months ago, ten miles of water main were installed in Wainscott, and not a peep was heard to challenge it.

What about Orsted? Orsted is a Danish renewable energy company and a global leader in offshore wind. Its new partner, Eversource, is a premier transmission builder with 100 years of experience providing energy in the Northeast. Orsted supplies over 25% of the world’s wind energy capacity. It has experience successfully building thousands of offshore turbines in Europe. Fishermen in England, The Netherlands, and France report positively, they say that the fish love these artificial reefs. If these were oil rigs, there would be not only climate damage but also occasional spills killing thousands of marine animals. What harm can we even imagine from a wind spill? In 2018, Orsted won aN award for the most socially responsible companies in the world.

Independent of East Hampton’s decisions, there will be two dozen government reviews before construction can begin. These will provide detailed environmental and other reviews at a technical level above and beyond what one might reasonably expect at the local level. Numerous top environmental groups are participating in the process. In addition, East Hampton has the right to submit all our questions and concerns in these processes. The town Board has already filed a submission.

The South Fork Wind Farm will be able to generate enough power for 70,000 South fork homes.

Our region has the fastest growth rate for electricity use on Long Island. Forecasts indicate that that all the electricity generated by the South Fork wind farm will be required in our local region But even if that proves not to be the case, what portion serves homes and businesses here and what portion serves homes elsewhere matters not a bit to its lessening of global warming and of the acidification of our waters. Acidification from burning fossil fuels has already been a factor in driving the lobsters north and harms all life in the ocean.

We as citizens have a duty not only to our local community but also to the nation.

Let’s think globally and act locally: let our Trustees and Board members know that you want to be counted and will welcome the wind farm.

Alice Tepper Marlin

Support for South Fork Wind Farm

East Hampton, NY

First there is this report “Labor, Environmental Organizations, and Long Island Residents Voice Strong Support for Critical Offshore Wind Development” released by the Sierra Club.

…and then this very poignant personal letter submitted at the PSC hearing on June 11th in East Hampton:

June 11, 2019

My name is Michael Hansen. I live in Wainscott.

Today is my wedding anniversary.

But I am here today instead… (my wife understands) because I am acutely aware that we are in a climate crisis. And it’s happening right now. It’s happening on Long Island. It’s happening in the Township of East Hampton.

1.   The docks at Shelter Island need to be raised because of a rising sea level.

2.   We are paying to shore up the infrastructure in Montauk because today’s “typical nor’easter,” is not typical at all.

But the opposition to wind power on the East End wants you to know, and they have said it many times, that they are, “for renewable energy, they are for solar power, they are for wind power… but not now, it’s too expensive, somewhere else, not in my backyard.”

We are paying for climate change right now. Our tax dollars are going to those docks in Montauk. Today.  

We are in a climate crisis and I am here today to speak for my children. My daughter is eight and my son is six.

My family has been on the East End for over three hundred years—as I am sure many of the families in this room have been—and my family and yours will continue to live here. And a wind farm, that is part of a comprehensive plan, is key to our children’s future.

A final word on Wainscott. The cable landing should be there. It will be least disruptive to East Hampton Town. And, ya know, Wainscott is tough. We can take it. We endured Suffolk County Water digging up our roads to provide us with clean water.

We can endure one lane of digging for clean energy.

Why all the fuss?

This is a cross section (a real piece) of the existing Block Island cable for their wind farm, consisting of 5 wind turbines that produce all the energy for the island with surplus energy for the state of Rhode Island. It is on my kitchen table. It measures 7 inches in diameter. It is similar to the cable that will bring energy from the South Fork Wind farm ashore.

“Carbon-free New York by 2040” is the overriding goal. Period.

If the urgency of achieving this goal is not apparent to any readers, just look at the most recent local news: “Higher tides force Shelter Island Ferry to rebuild ramps” This is a very real cost of sea level rise here on the South Fork! Check it out via Newsday.com.

And this is just the beginning.

On the other side of the issue we have loud opponents of the South Fork wind farm:

1) wealthy homeowners, with mansions on the Wainscott beach, who oppose any cable coming ashore in their vicinity, clearly a case of NIMBY

2) fishermen that have been whipped up with scare tactics.  I note that there are only 2 commercial fishing boats out of Montauk that fish in the Southfork wind farm area (OCS-A 0486, near Cox Ledge) which is closer to Rhode Island and Martha’s Vineyard than to Montauk.  From Montauk it takes 5 hours to get there by boat and 5 hours back.

For all those worried about a disruptive cable running under the sea bed and coming ashore somewhere, I would point out that a larger electric cable already feeds power in to Long Island coming all the way from New Jersey.  This dates back to 2007!  Like a giant extension cord, this transmission cable, named Neptune, stretches 50 miles underwater from Sayreville, N.J., comes ashore at Jones beach and has been plugged into Long Island for all these years without any nefarious effects on, or off shore. It is a 10″ cable and provides 660 megawatts.  

Likewise LIPA imports power from New England on the 330-megawatt Cross Sound Cable, which runs underwater from Connecticut. Two older cables, the 600-megawatt Y49 cable and the 599-megawatt Y50 cable, also run under the Sound to the Island.

Initial concerns about the effects on the shell fish industry were apparently not a problem over all these years.

Read more here:

Offshore wind project in jeopardy?

Submit a Comment to Show Your Support for the South Fork Wind Farm!

Take action!

As the per the Sierra Club, the first offshore wind project in New York is in jeopardy — act today to make sure we build the clean renewable, energy we need to meet New York’s bold climate commitments. 
 

New York has made bold climate commitments to power our state with 100% clean, renewable energy by 2040. The South Fork Wind Farm is a critical clean, renewable energy project that will help us meet this goal, but a few vocal opponents are trying to slow down renewable energy and climate progress.

You can play a role. The Public Service Commission (PSC) is collecting public comments. Let Governor Cuomo and the PSC know we must get this first offshore wind project built to lay the groundwork for future wind projects and to meet our bold climate and clean energy goals.