Green energy can put the wind in Long Island’s sails

From the Editorial Board of NEWSDAY

Credit: Don Pollard. 

February 9, 2021 

Offshore wind is having a moment, and none too soon.

For years, it’s been clear that embracing green forms of energy like wind and solar is key to fighting climate change, which increasingly threatens our region. Now, with the auspicious alignment of recent developments, the winds of change are blowing mostly in the right direction.

Progress has been substantial, as far as it goes. There’s still lots to do. For all the plans announced by state officials, all the interest from offshore wind companies, and all the contracts signed, we still have to:

  • build the facilities to manufacture wind farm components,
  • improve port infrastructure in Brooklyn and Albany so those parts can be shipped,
  • construct the wind farms off Long Island and lay the cables to deliver the energy that will reduce our dependence on greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels,
  • set up training programs for workers who will maintain the farms, and
  • develop the maintenance hubs for those workers.

Delays will be inevitable. Perseverance and communication will be critical. If the permitting process can be responsibly streamlined to allow the consideration of local objections but not let them grind progress to a halt, do it. But baseless NIMBY concerns, like those raised by some Wainscott residents against the landing of an underground cable in that South Fork community, cannot be allowed to derail this fight that’s vital to the health of our region.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set the stage with lofty goals: 9,000 megawatts of wind power by 2035 and a carbon-free electrical grid by 2040. With recent awards to Equinor of two more wind farms, generating 2,490 megawatts and joining three other farms already awarded, the state is nearly halfway to its target. Also announced: an agreement with Equinor to build the nation’s first manufacturing plant for offshore wind towers and transition pieces, at the Port of Albany, with finished components to be shipped down the Hudson River. Prompt completion would position New York as a manufacturing hub for the industry in the Northeast and bring hundreds of good-paying jobs and precious revenue, all of it eagerly sought by other states in the region. Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College are developing flexible programs to train and certify offshore wind industry workers.

The Biden administration’s commitment to offshore wind and its appointment of Long Islander and former Cuomo aide Amanda Lefton to head the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the agency that oversees the development of offshore wind, are promising. BOEM under the Trump administration stymied offshore wind; now it likely will advance delayed environmental reviews and reconcile differences with New York over suitable offshore wind areas and get them leased.

There’s a lot at stake in the state’s overall green energy program, besides the juice capable of powering 6 million homes. Cuomo says it also will create more than 50,000 jobs and attract $29 billion in private investment. Good environmental policy is good economic policy, too.

Let’s keep moving forward, and keep the winds of change at our backs.

Unwarranted Alarm about the South Fork Wind Project

From the East Hampton Star.


Noyac
December 21, 2020

Dear David,

Thank you for the consistent coverage of the South Fork Wind project. I’m glad to see the progress with permitting and to know the process is working — rigorous environmental review by the responsible agencies and inclusion of stakeholder input from the onset.

Marine construction in all forms has the potential to impact the environment. Water quality, habitat and living resources can be adversely affected. Specific to South Fork Wind, damages incurred during turbine installation and jet-plowing the 60-mile submarine cable are largely temporary and biologically inconsequential.

As for the cable landing, unlike the Block Island project, which employed the shallower jet-plowing that allowed the cable to become exposed, horizontal directional drilling is the methodology that will be used here. Horizontal drilling is capable of threading the cable deep into the sea floor and well below the influences of the high-energy surf zone. There is zero chance the cable will be exposed, and opponents of the project should stop conflating the two for the purpose of inciting unwarranted community alarm.

East Hampton should be commended for its due diligence with project review and for negotiating a substantive mitigation package. Beyond the obvious benefits from transitioning to renewable energy, there’s a golden opportunity to deliver meaningful actions for improving environmental health. Think big and act bold.

KEVIN MCALLISTER

Founder

Defend H2O

A Whale of a Tale

We know that Right Whales are in danger of extinction.

  • As the ocean warms, North Atlantic Right Whales are moving north to cooler waters in unprotected zones, where they die from vessel strikes and entanglement in fishing gear and where their food sources may be scarce.
  • Fewer than 250 mature North Atlantic right whales were estimated to be alive at the end of 2018, with the total population having plummeted by 15% over the last decade.

The factors contributing to the dwindling population of Right Whales include vessel strikes, fishing gear entanglements and lack of food. Climate change is redistributing the crustaceans called copepods that Right Whales eat.

Right Whales are spending more time in Canada than they used to, which is causing serious problems for their conservation.  The deaths since 2017 are largely due to some form of human action, like boat collisions, both in United States and Canadian waters. Quite a few, though not all, of these collisions have happened in the St. Lawrence Estuary in Canada.

But the Right Whale population has also seen low reproductive rates and declining health status in recent years that can’t be explained by vessel impacts. New research points to another possible culprit: climate change.

The Gulf of Maine is warming more rapidly than nearly any other ocean ecosystem on the planet. Scientists think the reasons include changes in the path of the Gulf Stream and the way its warm waters are interacting with other currents in the North Atlantic.

“Deep waters are warming and we think that is having an impact on the life cycle, and the distribution of the critters that right whales eat,” says Pendleton. Those critters – flea-like animals known as copepods, specifically the species Calanus finmarchicus – are a critical food supply for the endangered whales. Read more about this here.

Noise pollution can mask whales’ important underwater communication calls and reduce foraging success, which affects species’ health and reproductive abilities. Ocean noise can also divert the whales from their typical migration paths into areas unsuitable for feeding or into the path of passing ships.

Thus, it is heartening that offshore wind project plans are adopting restrictions, beyond those required by law, on vessel speed and limits on loud turbine construction from pile driving and geophysical survey activities. The limitations take in to account the times when North Atlantic Right whales are unlikely to be in the area.

Given the urgency of the climate crisis, the Natural Resources Defense Council is working hard to advocate for all forms of clean renewable energy projects, including the nascent offshore wind industry.

Local NIMBY groups in East Hampton fighting offshore wind projects, such as the South Fork Wind Farm, are using the plight of Right Whales in a sinister ploy to derail these offshore wind energy projects, which would only worsen ocean warming and the lack of critical food supply for Right Whales. Yet these same groups can not even tell the difference between a Right Whale and a Humpback Whale! See their posters attached in pdf format.

The Wind Farm’s Case

Autor

  • Publication: Southampton Press
  • Published on: Nov 21, 2020
  • Columnist: Karl Grossman

It would be the biggest offshore wind farm in New York State — more than 100 wind turbines starting 30 miles east of Montauk Point. It’s being called Sunrise Wind.

A “cable bundle” containing two electric cables would be buried under the seabed and extended west from the turbines for 100 miles, making landfall in the parking lot at Smith Point County Park in Shirley, and buried underground there. The cabling would then run for 17 miles, all underground, along William Floyd Parkway and, remaining underground, along other roads, and then the Long Island Expressway, reaching the Long Island Power Authority substation just north of the LIE in Holtsville.

Sunrise Wind would generate 880 megawatts of electricity and feed into the Long Island electric grid at Holtsville. The 880-megawatts would provide for 500,000 homes, nearly half of the Long Island Power Authority’s 1.1 million customer base.

A “virtual open house” was held on the project last week. Presentations were made and questions answered by representatives of the owners of the Sunrise Wind project, Denmark-based Ørsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, and Eversource, a product of a merger of New England utility companies that included Northeast Utilities.

Ørsted, since acquiring Deepwater Wind, owns the Block Island Wind Farm, consisting of five turbines off Block Island — the first U.S. offshore wind farm, which went operational in 2016. Ørsted and Eversource together own the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, which is to have 15 wind turbines also placed in the Atlantic east of Montauk Point.

The number of wind turbines in the Sunrise Wind project would depend on the size of the turbines used. If 8-megawatt turbines, common in new offshore wind farms, are used, the total would be 110. If the turbines would be smaller then there would be more to produce 880 megawatts of electricity. The project is “permitted for up to” 122 turbines, according to a spokesperson.

New York State last year awarded Ørsted the contract to develop Sunrise Wind after a competitive bidding process.

In the online “virtual open house,” representatives said the Sunrise Wind project would be a “catalyst” for clean energy. Here are some of the other points made by the representatives:

It would be a key to the “transition to clean energy” in New York State and the goal of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state to have “100 percent clean energy by 2040.”

The turbines would be “barely visible” from any shore. There would be “no harmful emissions,” and Sunrise Wind would “displace 2.1 million metric tons of carbon pollution” every year.

The “cost to the average ratepayer” on Long Island would be “less than $1 per month” extra on her or his electric bill. “Construction work could begin as early as 2023” — after all necessary permits are obtained — and completed in 2024.

There’d be a “host community benefit agreement,” through which Ørsted and Eversource would provide funds. Suffolk County Community College would become the “training center in Suffolk County” for offshore wind technology. It would be the “academic arm of the initiative.”

Port Jefferson would become a “hub” for activities. Workers on the Sunrise Wind project would live in two-week shifts on a “service operational vessel.”

Ørsted “brings unparalleled expertise” to the project, with its 26 “successful offshore wind farms” and “1,500 turbines worldwide.”

Cables would be buried “the entire length of the route.” All the “construction areas” would be “fully restored.” There would be “minimal environmental impact.”

Ørsted and Eversource welcome “stakeholder suggestions.” A slogan of “we listen, we learn, we adjust” was displayed. “We are totally committed to protect the environment … and work with commercial and recreational fishing interests.”

As to why the South Fork Wind Farm and the Sunrise Wind project would have different landing points, the explanation was that the South Fork project would be sending DC electricity to Long Island, and Sunrise would be sending AC. Also, there would be a difference in the voltage sent.

Offshore wind farms are able to harvest more wind power than onshore wind projects, said the representatives. Wind isn’t blocked and turbines can be larger, it was explained.

They said Sunrise Wind would be a “game-changer,” the “first of many” similar “large-scale” U.S. offshore wind projects. Also, offshore wind is an excellent “complement” to the other major source of clean electricity — solar power.

Wainscott Village Inc. Taken to Task

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Letters in the East Hampton Star of July 9th, 2020

False Narrative
East Hampton
July 5, 2020

Dear David,

I have been in and out of politics and government, at every level, for over 40 years. As for political ads, I am not easily shocked. But I was both shocked and saddened to see the full-page ad posted by the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott. On the Fourth of July weekend, the message appropriated the style and structure of the Declaration of Independence and used it to launch a vicious personal attack on Peter Van Scoyoc, East Hampton’s thoughtful and soft-spoken town supervisor.

The allegations, intended to make the case for the creation of a new village government for Wainscott, were numerous, and either totally false or grossly misrepresented the facts. At this perilous time for our nation when we should all be seeking ways to unite our communities, it is disappointing to see good people of Wainscott manipulated by a handful of super-rich summer residents in order to stop an underground utility cable that would deliver clean, renewable energy to 70,000 South Fork homes and businesses, benefiting us all. And they have added to their list of grievances their opposition to a modest affordable work force housing opportunity that would be located on Route 114 (closer to my home in Northwest Woods than to the mansions on Beach Lane).

Their latest goal is the incorporation of Wainscott as a village with boundaries that run all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the south side of Route 114, and from Division Street in Sag Harbor to Stephen Hand’s Path in East Hampton. Taxes would be increased dramatically on the homes and businesses within these boundaries to pay for the services and administration of a new village.

This small group of self-interested, part-time residents has created a fearsome false narrative on the perils of the South Fork Wind project, and are asking hundreds of Wainscott residents to foot the bill for the Nimby protection of their exclusive enclave. I hope the good people of East Hampton will not be taken in by this shameful campaign.

Sincerely,

JUDITH HOPE

Former East Hampton

Town supervisor

False Product
Springs
July 6, 2020

Dear David,

Wainscott will be forever changed not by the installation of an underground electric cable to deliver much-needed renewable or by a much-needed mall affordable housing development of new neighbors. It will be forever changed by residents who have decided to sever connections to the community of East Hampton. They want no part in solutions to the needs of the community or responsibility for their contributions to the problems of our town.

However, the deepest tradition of the hamlet of Wainscott is of neighbor helping neighbor, no matter in what part of town help was needed. When the townspeople were beset by a natural or man-made disaster, they did their part to help those in need. They pitched in with all they could. That is the tradition of Wainscott.

Now these town traditions are threatened by an attack-marketing campaign touting creating another layer of government to be controlled by the few. Yes, an incorporated village will be controlled by the few. They say the government positions will be nonsalaried. Ask yourself this question. Who can afford a job with no salary, no benefits, no retirement plan? Do you have the money it takes to campaign against their choices in future village elections? The teams of lawyers and national marketing agencies and engineers that they can afford cost more than yearly salaries for some. Will you forgo your equal representation in town government? Petition: “Signer Beware.”

This campaign began last year with personal attacks on a neighbor whose reputation in this town has been built upon a lifetime of community service and a town leader who has been appointed and elected to your own government for decades. Peter Van Scoyoc is a town leader who refuses to put the power of a few over the needs of the many in his job as supervisor. We have known that for decades. Peter and his family are a part of the fabric of this community, whether you agree with his politics or not. Try as hard as money will buy, they could not redefine Peter, and he won Wainscott by an overwhelming majority in 2019.

The group who have appropriated the name of preservers of what is Wainscott will be the ones who forever change the fundamental core of this entire town. We work together for the good of the many, and not the power of a few.

Good people of Wainscott: It is you who now must preserve the traditions of your community and our town by rejecting the false product you are now being sold.

Sincerely,

CATE ROGERS

Chairwoman

East Hampton

Democratic Committee

At It Again
East Hampton
July 6, 2020

Dear David,

Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, or C.P.W., is at it again. Don’t let these wealthy self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.

In the beginning, C.P.W. was all in favor of the South Fork Wind Farm but now it is not. Initially, C.P.W. did not want a cable buried under Beach Lane on its way north to the L.I.R.R. right of way. C.P.W. raised big funds from the wealthy few involved and hired teams of lawyers, engineers, P.R. firms, etc. C.P.W. waged battle on the Article Seven front with the various New York State agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Public Service, Department of Transportation, and Department of State. C.P.W. fought against the East Hampton Town Board, East Hampton Town Trustees, and a variety of other organizations that wanted the best decision for the 70,000 residents who would benefit from the South Fork Wind Farm.

Apparently, C.P.W. sees the handwriting on the wall that few of the 70,000 beneficiaries are on its side. So, C.P.W. upped the ante, and now says that renewable energy is not good, and even if it is, it should be brought in from UpIsland. C.P.W. knows that this would be very expensive since the current infrastructure would need to be replaced to carry the increased load. C.P.W., seeing failure looming, has now hired another law firm to lead the charge to incorporate Wainscott as a village.

C.P.W. makes numerous false allegations against East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc that exist only in the minds of C.P.W. Peter Van Scoyoc has treated this whole process as a fair and thoughtful arbiter of the many issues and concerns around the South Fork Wind Farm. He has been very patient in listening to all sides and giving all sides an opportunity to be heard. Peter Van Scoyoc represents all the residents of East Hampton Town, and C.P.W. is right about one thing: only a small number live in Wainscott. The South Fork Wind Farm will benefit every resident of East Hampton Town, not only with adequate electric power but with cleaner air and water, not to mention bluer skies.

C.P.W. then attacks Peter Van Scoyoc for selling Wainscott’s legacy by burying an electric cable under its roads. I am not sure what legacy they are talking about, but I note there was no complaint or reference to legacy when Peter Van Scoyoc and the East Hampton Town Board provided Suffolk County water to many Wainscott residents. Please note, these water pipes were buried under Wainscott’s roads.

C.P.W. then complains that Peter Van Scoyoc hasn’t reduced the noise sufficiently at East Hampton Airport. C.P.W. knows full well that the airport situation is now controlled by the Federal Aviation Administration, and not by the East Hampton Town Board.

C.P.W. and its wealthy sponsors, who, by the way, are involved in New York City with organizations to help minorities and the disadvantaged, are alleging that Peter Van Scoyoc has failed to control multifamily housing by proposing to build affordable housing on Route 114. The one thing East Hampton needs is affordable housing for its many workers.

C.P.W. is stretching to find any reason to justify incorporating Wainscott. Incorporation will cause taxes to go up in Wainscott and will not give any leverage to Wainscott in the airport noise discussion.

C.P.W. claims its new Wainscott village board will serve without compensation: You get what you pay for.

Wainscott will need to reimburse East Hampton for the millions it spent on the water pipes, and it will need to contract for police, fire, schools, highway maintenance, and all the other village services now provided by the Town of East Hampton.

The South Fork Wind Farm will eliminate the fossil fuel-fired “peaker plants,” which are used in the summer months to meet the increased demand for electricity. These “peaker plants” may get more use now that the pandemic has caused an increase in East Hampton’s population that may not go down in September. These “peaker plants” foul the air and water with CO2, causing air and water pollution to the detriment of humans and fish.

Don’t let these wealthy, self-centered people fool you into doing something that will not benefit you.

JEREMIAH T. MULLIGAN

A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind

Paul Forsberg A Fisherman’s Perspective about Offshore Wind after serving 8 months as a Captain on an Offshore Wind Survey Vessel. Click on the below image to see the YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rmu5zQ0OLk

This is a must watch for all of us. Could not say it better.

Climate and Real Estate

GUESTWORDS in the East Hampton Star

By David Posnett

January 1, 2020

There is already evidence of a real estate slump in the United States. A housing recession is predicted for 2020. The average price of luxury home sales is falling, as is the number of sales. Long Island specifically is suffering as sales decrease and homes lose value. This is rather astonishing given that the rest of the economy is still on steroids.

What are the reasons? The following have all been suggested.

First, baby boomers from New York are downsizing and moving to lower-tax states. Second, millennials seem to have a distaste for buying second homes and would rather rent. Third, bonuses on Wall Street fell 17 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Fourth, the tax changes brought on by Donald Trump: a cap of $10,000 on the amount of state and local taxes (SALT), including property taxes, that can be deducted from federal income tax. For an expensive home with property taxes of $50,000 per year, this means that $40,000 can no longer be deducted.

Fifth, as mentioned by some real estate professionals: chronic flooding, which threatens the values of houses here. According to Aidan Gardiner writing for The Real Deal, a website focusing on New York real estate news: “Chronic flooding threatens to sink the value of Hamptons homes. Hamptons homes are very likely to lose value given that they’ll face chronic flooding as climate changes and sea levels rise over the coming years, according to Bloomberg. Behind only central California, the area has the second-highest level of its property tax revenue at risk among U.S. municipalities with a high likelihood of chronic flooding in the next 12 years. Climate change is expected to bring constant floods that would tank property values, erode infrastructure, and sink tax revenue, all of which will make it harder to fund projects to battle the rising seas.”

You can check for yourself on ss2.climatecentral.org, where you can find a “risk zone map for surging seas.” See the figure appended below.  You can input anything from “unchecked pollution” to “extreme carbon cuts,” depending on how you predict future policies will rein in carbon emissions.

I assumed unchecked carbon emissions along the lines of our present-day emissions, and I asked for maps of a 10-foot water level rise. The program produces maps with dark blue shaded areas that will be underwater. Here are some of the highlights for the not so distant future (2050 to 2100).

Montauk will become an island, the Napeague stretch will be underwater, and much of downtown Montauk will be too, including Route 27. Flooding of Route 27 across Napeague will start with just a three-foot rise in sea water levels, shutting down access to Montauk.

Homes all around Accabonac Harbor will be flooded. Gerard Drive and Louse Point will be submerged. Maidstone Park, Sammy’s Beach, and Cedar Point will be gone. Barcelona Point and the Sag Harbor Golf Course will become an island.

Beach homes in Amagansett, homes along Two Mile Hollow Beach, homes around Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, and Wainscott Pond will all be underwater. Indeed, a few homes on Beach Lane in Wainscott will be submerged. That is where the cable from the South Fork Wind Farm is proposed to come ashore and where some of its opponents own property.

Much of Sag Harbor Village will be underwater, and North Haven will be a real island.

Up and down Long Island, the homes close to the South Shore will be underwater, and Fire Island will no longer exist.

The North Shore, too, will be flooded, and Greenport will be on an island.

Kennedy International Airport will be underwater.

It is not just someone else’s problem. Loss of value of high-end homes means loss of significant local business and loss of jobs, and it spills over, resulting in loss of the value of your own property regardless of whether it is in particular danger of flooding.

Showtime’s “The Affair” recently wrapped up its final season, and part of it was set in mid-21st-century Montauk, with warming temperatures and rising seas. The show forecasts what life will look like in 34 short years, including mass transit that routinely short-circuits because of flooding, coastal communities plunged into near-total darkness, and shoreline towns without basic municipal services.

We had better support clean energy (including offshore wind) and work to decrease our carbon footprint. It is urgent.

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David Posnett is a member of the Steering Committee of Win With Wind.

Wainscott Best Site to Bury Power Cable

OpinionLetters, By Newsday Readers December 16, 2019 10:02 AM

Richard DeRose of Wainscott walks his dog at

Richard DeRose of Wainscott walks his dog at the town beach on Beach Lane in Wainscott, likely site of a cable landing for the South Fork Wind Farm. Dec. 5 Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Thanks for your Dec. 9 news story on the South Fork offshore wind project [“Negotiations over cable”] about talks regarding the landing site of an electrical cable. As a former commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, I’m no stranger to local opposition to projects like this. But the opposition by Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott to the cable landing is “not in my backyard” on steroids. I encourage this small group of owners of second homes to reconsider.

The cable landing in Wainscott is preferred because it is the least environmentally disruptive and would affect the fewest people for the shortest period. Unfortunately, despite the need to rapidly move away from fossil fuels, the citizens group is taking an irrational “anyplace but here” attitude. The temporary inconvenience from burying the cable would be minimal, and would occur in the offseason, when most owners of second homes are not around.

Connecting this offshore energy to the Long Island grid is now being reviewed by several state agencies. I believe this time-tested process, along with decisions by local officials, will produce a project that is good for the South Fork, Long Island and the state. I urge citizens of Wainscott to support it. After all, coastal property owners have the most to lose if New York does not lead the way in combating climate change.

Joe Martens, East Hampton

Editor’s note: The writer is director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance, a coalition of organizations supporting wind power.