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.
December 21, 2020
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.
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.
- 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.
SOUTH FORK WIND – Field Surveys & Site Evaluation Purpose.
South Fork Wind is performing nearshore geotechnical surveys to inform the cable landing. The work will be performed by a lift boat named the Laredo Brazos – a barge that can stand out of the water for protection from wave action. The surveys will consist of three soil borings of the seafloor. The soil borings will be taken at points 780 feet, 1470 feet, and 2,160 feet from shore, directly off the Wainscott Beach.
Timeline: The vessel is anticipated to arrive on or around November 15 and activity will begin on November 16. We anticipate the work will be completed by November 25. The barge, as well as a smaller vessel named the Kristen Miller, will be visible from shore during this time. Timeline & Location
Submitted by Judith Weis:
November 20, 2020
Block Island wind farm. Image: Wikimedia commons
On Wednesday11/18/20, Danish energy company Ørsted joined with North America’s Building Trades Unions (formerly known as the AFL-CIO’s Building and Construction Trades Department) to create a program that trains wind energy workers in hopes of deploying more offshore wind along the East Coast.
In doing so, these groups have piloted a new way to create more carbon-free energy while also expanding job opportunities and training to workers in a rapidly growing sector of our economy.
Why This Matters: Some labor unions haven’t always embraced a transition to a clean energy economy fearing that such a transition would wipe out high-paying jobs in existing energy and industrial sectors and replace them with lower-wage alternatives. Yet this program strives specifically to bring labor unions on board to help grow the nascent U.S. offshore wind industry.
As it stands, the United States is lagging behind Europe and Asia in maximizing its offshore wind energy capacity. Europe has 22,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity, Asia has 8,000, while the United States only has just over 40–it’s a chance to reduce emissions while creating jobs.
A New Energy Sector: Ørsted operates a wind farm off Block Island — America’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm, and has also built a two-turbine project off the coast of Virginia. The Rhode Island project was built with union labor and served as a pilot for a more sweeping national agreement.
To expand this program, Ørsted and NABTU will select the necessary skills to create an offshore workforce as well as a training and certification program to prepare potential workers to construct new wind energy projects.
The United States has 15 active commercial leases for offshore wind farms. According to statistics from the America Wind Energy Association, if these farms were constructed, they could generate 30 gigawatts of electricity, create 83,000 jobs, and bring in 25 billion dollars in annual economic output over the next ten years.
Moreover, it’s important that Ørsted is working alongside labor unions to ensure fair wages and benefits. NABTU’s president supports the agreement, telling Reuters: “This will show how as we move and transform our energy production in North America, it can be done at middle-class wages and good benefits packages. Anything else is not acceptable.”
July 5, 2020
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.
Former East Hampton
July 6, 2020
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.
At It Again
July 6, 2020
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
The New York Offshore Wind Alliance (NYOWA), Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) and the NY League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV), representing a broad and diverse group of environmental, labor and community advocacy organizations, today applauded the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) for releasing the draft supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) for the Vineyard Wind Offshore Wind project.
Located in federal waters off the Massachusetts coastline, if approved the project would be the first large-scale offshore wind project in the United States, providing 800 megawatts (MW) of clean and reliable electricity into the Massachusetts grid and setting a strong example for the kind of clean energy project that can help transform our economy and fuel renewable energy development to combat climate change. With the start of the public input period kicking off this Friday, the NYOWA, CCE and NYLCV plan to submit comments to BOEM and participate in virtual public meetings voicing their strong support for this project and encouraging BOEM to approve it a manner that not hinder or unreasonably restrict the responsible development of offshore wind.
“We are at a pivotal point in the development of a new American clean energy industry,” said the New York Offshore Wind Alliance Director Joe Martens, “Advancing the Vineyard Wind project is critical to providing the pathway for the responsible development of offshore wind up and down the east coast. We urge BOEM and its sister federal agencies to complete their review of this project so we can reap the economic, environmental and public health benefits of offshore wind.”
“As the first large scale offshore wind farm in the US, this project is critically important to demonstrate the immense environmental, economic, and community benefits of wind power, not only for Massachusetts but for the entire east coast. The more wind power is advanced the less fossil fuels are needed. We are very hopeful that in the near future we can say that fossil fuels are gone with the wind. As New York, Connecticut, and other states work to meet our ambitious renewable energy standards and offshore wind goals, we urge a quick approval for the Vineyard Wind Project and look forward to seeing these turbines lead the way for US offshore wind,” said Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
“Clean energy for all means our approach to renewable energy must be regional,” said New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe. “Offshore wind is an integral component needed to meet New York’s goal of 70% renewable energy by 2030. The Vineyard Offshore Wind project will set the stage for other developments across the Eastern Seaboard. We need the environmental, public health, and economic benefits that this and other offshore wind projects will bring to our region. We applaud the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management for taking this step and urge the quick completion of its review and approval of the project.”
The Vineyard Wind project would generate enough carbon-free electricity to power some 400,000 homes, generate $2.8 billion in direct private investment and provide 3,600 family-sustaining jobs, all while saving ratepayers of $1.4 billion over the life of the project. Having released the draft SEIS on June 11, the BOEM now plans to hold five virtual public hearings, beginning Friday, June 26th. Following the close of the public comment period on July 27, BOEM will review the comments, finalize the Environmental Impact Statement in November and issue a Record of Decision in December.
About the New York Offshore Wind Alliance: The New York Offshore Wind Alliance (NYOWA) is a diverse coalition of organizations with a shared interest in promoting the responsible development of offshore wind power for New York. NYOWA is a project of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY). http://www.aceny.org/NYOWA
About the Citizens Campaign for the Environment: Citizens Campaign for the Environment is a grassroots environmental organization that works to protect our natural resources and public health. Through extensive education, research, lobbying and public outreach CCE increases citizens influence and participation in important environmental protection campaigns. Through such activism, the public has a stronger voice in the development of public policies and legislative agendas.
About the New York League of Conservation Voters: The New York League of Conservation Voters is the only non-partisan, statewide environmental organization in New York that takes a pragmatic approach to fighting for clean water, healthy air, renewable energy, and open space. For more information, visit http://www.nylcv.org.