Last Sunday’s Opinion, winds of change, is clearly an opinion of NIMBY folks in Wainscott (population 700+) who don’t let facts interfere with their story.
Win With Wind’s (formed in 2019) sole purpose is to produce fact-based information regarding the benefits of renewable offshore wind energy. Win With Wind is independent and not affiliated with any wind or energy development company and has no financial ties with any interest group or individual who has a monetary stake in such an enterprise. Win With Wind is non-partisan and does not promote or oppose the candidacy of any individuals for public office at any level. The only former town official on its 4 member board or 7 member steering committee is a former East Hampton Town Supervisor who left office more than 30 years ago.
Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott is a small group with significant money that has hired teams of lawyers, engineers, PR firms, etc., to push alternative landing sites, that are all problematic.
East Hampton locals are concerned about climate change. Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott selfishly don’t want to be inconvenienced.
The South Fork Wind Farm will power 70,000 homes and off-set 300,000 tons of carbon emissions each year.
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.
David Posnett is a member of the Steering Committee of Win With Wind.
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.
Initially, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott claimed that it supported the South Fork Wind Farm but did not want the cable buried under Beach Lane. Interesting, Wainscott made no objection earlier in the year to East Hampton Town and Suffolk County burying nine miles of water pipe in Wainscott roadways (including Beach Lane) when the water quality of Wainscott’s aquifer was called into question.
Next, C.P.W. argued that the cable should come ashore at Hither Hills. The plan was to bury it under Montauk Highway from Hither Hills through Amagansett and East Hampton Village and then up Route 114 to the Cove Hollow Road substation. This would be very disruptive to homes, businesses, and traffic along this 11-mile route. This would take two off-seasons to complete. When asked why this was preferable, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott had no answer. F.Y.I., Beach Lane has six year-round residences.
Now, C.P.W. is opposed to the wind farm because the price negotiated with LIPA is too high. The agreement between Deepwater/Orsted and LIPA (which was approved by the New York State Public Service Commission) was the result of a public bid, which Deepwater/Orsted won because it provided electricity at the lowest cost. Now, four-plus years later, new wind farm bids are coming in even lower. Such prices will benefit South Fork residents since PSEG prices are based on a mix of all the prices it pays for the electricity it delivers. Lower prices for power from the newer wind farms will lower PSEG costs, and thus bills to consumers will go down.
Recently, C.P.W. claimed, without any supporting details, that within five years there would be more efficient and affordable ways to solve the power needs on the East End. Ninety-nine percent of scientists agree climate change is a current crisis. We need immediate action to address South Fork power needs, air pollution, health risks, sea level rise, as well as the existential crisis of climate change.
Finally, C.P.W. complains that Orsted is breaking its promise to explore the Hither Hills route in the Public Service Commission settlement negotiations, which are ongoing. Significant time was spent on the Hither Hills route during those negotiations, and on Jan. 8, at the request of C.P.W., an additional settlement negotiation will be held to allow C.P.W. to present its alternative route.
Orsted has gone out of its way to cooperate with C.P.W. The only deception has been on the part of C.P.W., which has little credibility. Clearly, C.P.W. is just a small, moneyed Nimby group who wants electricity for Wainscott without any involvement or inconvenience on their part.
It’s time for C.P.W. to get with the program and support the wind farm, which will provide electricity to 70,000 South Fork homes, including the 700 or so in Wainscott.
Baseball fans like to check the box scores. Unlike
people, the numbers never lie. As a fan of the planet earth, I like to
check out the NASA website Global Climate Change,
The June 2019 box score for earth is depressing:
412 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, three parts
higher than one year ago. For those who may not be avid earth fans, CO2
is the primary greenhouse gas driving climate change. A graph on the
NASA website shows that it never exceeded 300 parts per million in
400,000 years of earth’s history. Then we started pumping fossil fuel
emissions (CO2) into the air, and it has been rising steadily since. If
earth were a baseball team, fans would be clamoring for the manager’s
head, lambasting the owner for being too cheap to pay for decent
The self-appointed manager of the Wainscott
opponents of clean wind energy is Simon Kinsella, who claims to be an
earth fan, but he thinks a buried cable in his neighborhood is too big a
price to pay to improve our chances of winning against climate change.
Winning is not guaranteed. In fact, all indications are that humanity is
already assured a grim century.
Scientists now project that we must reduce fossil
emissions by 45 percent in 11 years to avoid dire consequences.
Generalize from resistance to clean energy, like what we see from Mr.
Kinsella, and one must conclude that there is scant chance of reaching
that goal. So it is bad news indeed that we are still turning earth’s
thermostat up. And it is puzzling that Mr. Kinsella persists in telling
his team they need not do anything different. They should not accept
even a small inconvenience. And it is galling that some residents
blithely follow this pied piper of petrochemicals.
Pay no attention to forest fires now raging north
of the Arctic Circle in Alaska, Greenland, Siberia, and the Amazon,
releasing an unexpected rush of additional CO2 that scientists didn’t
count in their calculations. Simon says ignore the 197 billion tons of
ice melted from Greenland in the month of July 2019. Ignore 109 degrees
in Paris. Mr. Kinsella must feel that we have plenty of time to resist
any local disruption and force others to bear the burden.
But the box score scrupulously kept by NASA
scientists is crystal clear. We are in the final inning in which we can
do anything to forestall the coming chaos. Pay attention, kids. You may
be privileged to live at a great inflection point in planetary history,
the point at which we humans, through scientific illiteracy, oblivious
self-interest, and greed, doom ourselves to be just another dead end on
the merciless map of evolution.
Simon might tell you it isn’t him; it’s Donald
Trump or Mitch McConnell. But Trump and McConnell can’t do it alone.
They need thousands of Si Kinsellas, whether paid lobbyists or useful
idiots, on the front lines fighting every local effort to build the
infrastructure for clean energy, saying, “Wait! Don’t be rash! WE don’t
need to sacrifice even a little of our bubble of comfort.”
Recently Simon sent an email to 800 town residents,
impugning the integrity of Gordian Raacke, a man who for 26 years has
been fighting for renewable energy in all of its forms. This email was
riddled with false statements. Suggesting that solar and microgrid can
render Deepwater unnecessary, he appends a document called “Community
Microgrid Project,” and suggests this was a town solution to climate
change that was diverted by Mr. Raacke. In fact, Mr. Raacke fought hard
for this type of project, but it failed for economic reasons to gain
state approval. I suppose Kinsella figured nobody would read it, because
it actually is an unsolicited study that calls for 15 megawatts of
solar. Deepwater is for 130 megawatts. This is like suggesting the new
batboy renders the home-run hitter unnecessary.
I don’t know anybody supporting the wind farm who
is opposed to microgrids and solar. We are for both. If we are to
achieve net zero, even the wind farm is not enough. But we are in the
midst of a climate emergency. The wind farm is shovel ready, with
private money willing and eager to build it at negligible cost to
ratepayers. The microgrid and solar solution is at this point a
flying-horse fantasy, unplanned, unsited, and unfunded, and is simply
being used as a distraction by those, like Mr. Kinsella, who resist even
the smallest inconvenience in their neighborhood in the town’s effort
to reduce its carbon footprint.
I urge the signers of Kinsella’s petitions to visit
the NASA website and read the box score. Tell him to find another
hobby, if it is a hobby. Maybe it’s a profession. We don’t know who is
paying for the phalanx of lawyers and engineers on his payroll. A
suspicious sort might wonder if fossil-fuel money is involved, but I
suppose it could be just homegrown ignorance.
Our planet is gasping for breath. Don’t be fooled by fantasies.
I am writing to voice strong support for the South
Fork Wind Farm. Environmental studies continue to be done, safety
concerns have been addressed, and given the climate crisis that exists,
this project cannot start soon enough. I feel that it is all hands on
deck in the sense that wind power, solar power, reforestation, and
sustainability in the way we live, all must play a part to thwart the
harm being done to our environment by the continued use of fossil fuels.
Energy from wind turbines, as has been shown in
Europe, can move our community along to fulfill its goal of becoming 100
percent sustainable, make our town a role model for our country, and
help on the overall path to a healthier planet.