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Jun 12, 2019 11:21 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

First Wind Farm Hearing Focuses On Wainscott, And Climate Change

John Conrad, an attorney hired by residents of Wainscott, said that the Hither Hills landing site makes more sense because it would not cause disruption at homes nearby during drilling operations and that the cable coudl be run under road shoulders instead of having to rip up entire roads to bury the cable. Michael Wright
Jun 12, 2019 11:46 AM

The first public hearings on the South Fork Wind Farm project brought residents from across Long Island to East Hampton on Tuesday to plead with the State Public Service Commission to make the smart choice when it comes to the Deepwater Wind proposal.

For some, that meant for the commission to give its stamp of approval to the wind farm developer’s preferred electrical cable route—through Wainscott, and then under town roads to East Hampton—so that the 15 wind turbines can be built with as little delay or interference as possible.

The wind farm is an important step toward reversing the effects of global warming in the United States, they said.

But for others—mostly residents of Wainscott—it would mean the PSC finding that the power cable connecting the wind farm to land would best be brought ashore in a state park in Montauk, and not at quaint Beach Lane, in their backyards.

Some—East Hampton Town elected officials, in particular—simply asked that, whatever the state commission decides as far as the cable route is concerned, it should ensure that the traditions, livelihoods and rights of South Fork residents are protected from unforeseen adverse impacts of the entire $1.6 billion project.

Dozens of speakers weighed in on the project during a pair of two-hour hearing sessions on Tuesday at the Emergency Services Building in East Hampton Village, with officials from Deepwater Wind answering questions about the project and a PSC magistrate, Anthony Belsito, overseeing the proceedings.

“We are glad for this hearing, because we will finally have someone who will decide where to land this cable, on the merits,” said John Finley, a Wainscott homeowner who has been among those spearheading a well-funded residents’ group opposing the proposed Wainscott landing site. “The residents of Wainscott only want one thing from the PSC: the best landing site.”

For most of those aligned with Mr. Finley, the best site would be through Hither Hills State Park in Montauk, which Deepwater Wind has said is its second choice for a landing site.

Bringing the cable ashore in one of the parking lots at the park campground would not require a major drilling operation to be set up for months near private homes, would not require small rural roads to be almost entirely ripped up as the cable is run underground once it reaches the shore, and would shorten the overall distance the cable must be buried in the sea floor by about 11 miles.

They noted that using state parks to land undersea cables has been common practice in other projects, including the Block Island Wind Farm, also built by Deepwater Wind.

The group of residents, calling themselves the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, say they have 1,300 supporters in their corner and were represented at Tuesday’s hearings by a team of attorneys and public relations experts with long ties to state government.

Deepwater Wind has said that its preferred option to bring the cable from the sea floor onto land is beneath the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott. Doing so would require several months of horizontal drilling, with equipment staged on narrow Beach Lane and drilling crews working around the clock at times.

From there, the cable would run beneath two miles of town roads, which the company has said would mostly remain passable during the work.

Officials from Ørsted U.S. Offshore, the entity that now owns Deepwater Wind, said on Tuesday that the work could be conducted over a single winter season, between November 1 and March 31, so as to not tie up summer traffic. The company has also pledged that access to the beach will never be impeded, and that roads would remain passable most of the time.

Jennifer Garvey, Long Island development manager for Deepwater Wind, said that the company had assessed the Wainscott route as not only cheaper but also less disruptive, because it would require the digging up of just two miles of lightly traveled roadways, rather than several more miles of the region’s main thoroughfare over two winter seasons. “We felt it was more beneficial to the entire community,” she said.

Another Wainscott resident, Jonathan Stern, said the company’s interests would appear to more likely be their own.

“The price is fixed no matter where the landing site is,” he noted, of the cost to the Long Island Power Authority to purchase power from the wind farm. “So the only one who has an economic stake in this is Deepwater, because it’s going to cost them a whole lot less.”

Deepwater has acknowledged that the long on-land route is more expensive for them, though it has not said how much more. The Wainscott proposal, since it uses town-owned roads, would come with an approximately $8 million “community benefits” package from Deepwater that includes the company paying for infrastructure upgrades, burying power lines in scenic areas of Wainscott, and funding fisheries support programs through the East Hampton Town Trustees.

But Katarina Mesarovich, also a Wainscott resident, said that adding the installation of the wind farm cable to the area would contribute to the “industrialization of Wainscott” and is not worth the benefits.

“We already have the airport, there is an industrial park being proposed, and now we have this large project, in this small community,” she said. “Why would we risk our most valuable asset—the beach—for the price of one house?”

Not all Wainscott residents sided with their neighbors in opposition to the landing site.

Frank Dalene, a former chairman of the town’s Energy Sustainability Committee, lashed out at his neighbors for their opposition.

“After it was announced that the cable may land on Beach Lane, there rose up in the community charlatans, purveyors of false information and fear-mongers,” Mr. Dalene said. “They … gathered a following, because the false information and fear-mongering fit the narrative of NIMBYism.”

Michael Hansen, a member of the Waincott Citizens Advisory Committee along with Mr. Dalene, echoed that sentiment.

“The opponents to wind power on the East End of Long Island want you to know they are for wind power, they are for renewable energy—but not now and not in my backyard,” he said, mocking opponents’ support for the project as long as the cable was elsewhere. “Wainscott is tough. We can take it. We endured [the Suffolk County Water Authority] digging up our roads to ensure clean water. We can endure one winter of digging up our roads to ensure clean energy.”

Others characterized the debate about the landing site as pointless fretting over something of little consequence.

“What we are doing is standing at the railing of a sinking ship, in our tuxedos, asking, ‘Is there a bathroom in the lifeboat?” said Don Matheson, imploring the PSC to “stop listening to whiners who are in search of a perfect solution that doesn’t exist.

“It’s time to stop dithering and build this thing,” he said.

Deepwater Wind South Fork LLC is seeking to build 15 turbines in the ocean about 35 miles southeast of Montauk in an area known as Cox Ledge. The wind farm would be connected to the South Fork by a 50-mile-long undersea power cable, 12 inches in diameter, which will come ashore at whichever site is ultimately decided on and then run underground to the LIPA substation near Buell Lane in East Hampton. The substation will undergo a substantial expansion to accept the cable.

To win permission for the project, Deepwater has to navigate a two-pronged review: with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management assessing the designs of the wind farm itself, which will stand in federal waters, and with the state PSC holding sway over the route the power cable will follow into New York State waters and on land. The federal review process has yet to move into the public hearing phase.

Deepwater-Ørsted officials have said they hope to have the permits in place by the end of 2020 so that construction can begin in 2021 and the wind farm can go online in 2022.

While the 15 turbines will constitute their own project, Ørsted and its partner, New England energy company Eversource, have dozens more turbines planned for construction in their wind lease area to send power to Rhode Island and Connecticut. Other companies have projects in the pipeline as well, and more than 200 turbines could be spinning in the waters between Montauk and Nantucket by 2025, with hundreds more planned for the New York Bight.

Fishermen have proven to be the main objectors to the wind farm in general and the ultimate scale of development proposed, with fears that the noise of the turbines or electromagnetic fields from the power lines could alter historic fish migration patterns and destroy traditional fisheries.

East Hampton Town Trustee Rick Drew asked the PSC on Tuesday to help ensure that fishermen are protected.

“We as a board have represented the rights of our community pertaining to fishing rights, access to our common lands and beaches and other rights … for over 350 years,” he said.

On behalf of the Trustees, he laid out a collection of additional protections that the Trustees would like to see imposed on, and paid for by, Deepwater conditional to any approvals: an independent engineering review of the construction plan, establishment of a performance bond to ensure issues with the installation of the cable under the beaches are addressed, continual monitoring of electromagnetic fields on the beach where the cable lands and a specific study of the effects of EMF emissions on striped bass and the baitfish they feed on. Mr. Drew also said that the community benefits package offered by Deepwater if it uses the Wainscott site should be valid regardless of where the cable lands in East Hampton Town.

For many of the speakers on Tuesday, however, the project’s long-term benefits outweighed any concerns about local worries. The Sierra Club mustered dozens of young Long Islanders to come and offer their support for wind power as the most important arrow in the quiver for rolling back the causes of global warming.

“The time is nigh to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy,” said Danny Morgan. “East Hampton has a great opportunity to set that standard. The answer is literally blowing in the wind.”

Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, spoke directly to those concerned that the drilling in their neighborhoods would be disruptive and nodded to the billions of dollars being spent across Long Island to protect against rising sea levels.

“All of those are mitigating climate change, but not one of them is addressing the problem,” she said. “It’s not going to be easy, and you might have to make a sacrifice. We’re in this together—it’s one island, one fight, and we’ve got to get it right or we’re not going to get another generation who gets to live here.”

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It's a scam just like the other wond power off Rhode Island. Get the Grant's then sell the company. Electric never goes down
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Jun 12, 19 3:34 PM
umm how is putting some windmills in the ocean, tearing up the beach and roads to provide electricity at an unknown price going to combat alleged man made global warming , or is it now climate change, especially when China and India continue to burn coal and are building new coal fired power pants? I call Bravo Sierra on the whole thing.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 12, 19 5:08 PM
I agree. I’m all for oil wells up and down The Atlantic coast line.its foolish to waste natural resources. Clean coal is the other alternative, mine more coal. Tuna tastes better with higher levels of mercury. Global warming is a hoax made up the Chinese, what a joke. Open your eyes, there is no global warming.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jun 12, 19 5:45 PM
Okay...man made climate change is absolutely real bigfresh. If you spend a half hour looking at google maps, you'll see that there is virtually no land not altered by humans. These land use changes have major effects on not only local, but global biogeochemical cycles. Now we are emitting more carbon than the land can absorb and store. The earth's atmosphere acts as greenhouse glass, trapping heat within. Even oil companies like Exxon have know this for nearly a century. Do you also believe that ...more
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Jun 13, 19 11:30 AM
Ok, 2 questions that should be super easy for a self described environmentalist.

1. Since the 1970’s, the US population grew by over 100 million people, or nearly 50%. How have CO2 emissions by this country changed during that time? (For the sake of simplicity, pick any year from the 1970s to compare).

2. As we’re an island, how much has local sea level risen due to “climate change”. As a fear frequently stocked by LIs global warming activists, surely they ...more
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Jun 13, 19 1:24 PM
Is sea level rising? Yes, sea level is rising at an increasing rate.

Global sea level has been rising over the past century, and the rate has increased in recent decades. In 2014, global sea level was 2.6 inches above the 1993 average—the highest annual average in the satellite record (1993-present). Sea level continues to rise at a rate of about one-eighth of an inch per year.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jun 13, 19 1:45 PM

I won't answer your questions for two reasons:

1. Fore1gnBorn already did accurately.

2. It's pretty clear nothing will change your mind, facts & data included.

I actually don't describe myself as an environmentalist, precisely because of the reaction it draws from people like yourself. However, I do have a BS in environmental science and care about future generations ability to live comfortably on the planet.

I'm not going to waste my time ...more
By Enviro Guy (55), Southampton on Jun 13, 19 3:08 PM
1 member liked this comment
Don’t forget, trump says wind power causes cancer. Be afraid, be very afraid.
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jun 13, 19 11:34 AM
Trump says windpower causes cancer, the alarmists you rely on for your opinions have repeatedly specified various years bu which we’d be doomed, many of which are already a number of years behind us.

So I’ll ask you, what has happened to US CO2 emissions over the last 50 years? With so many more cars on the road, much more electricity consumed, virtually no “renewable” energy in the mix, so many more people now, how much higher are they?

Bonus question. ...more
By MoronEliminator (215), Montauk on Jun 13, 19 1:33 PM
Emissions have decreased but concentration continues to rise, moron:

Carbon dioxide concentration in our atmosphere has increased by about 24 percent since 1958.

In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history. This recent relentless rise in CO2 shows a remarkably constant relationship with fossil-fuel burning, and can be well accounted for based on the simple premise that about 60 percent of fossil-fuel emissions stay in the air.

National ...more
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (8265), HAMPTON BAYS on Jun 13, 19 1:48 PM
Moron, I don’t answer trolls questions
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jun 13, 19 1:39 PM
1 member liked this comment
Enviro: Please explain the rise in temperatures post ice age but pre industrial revolution, obviously not man made global warming for that time period. Do any of the pro wind farm folks care to address the potential adverse impacts on our commercial fishing industry ? How about the environmental price of manufacturing and disposing of the windmills , cables and accompanying hardware? Maintenance costs and life expectancy perhaps? Let alone the potential destruction of a beautiful beach , how will ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 13, 19 4:48 PM
Windmills are not new technologies. They have vast amounts in Europe that have been operating. I’ve read a lot of papers about them. The impact to commercial fishing appears to be minimal. The one thing the commercial fisherman said was the blades messed with their radar. As to the manufacturing and disposal, what kind of impact does it cause? They sink ships off the coast for fishing reefs, why not obsolete windmills? I suggest you do a little research, it’s not new and it’s safe. ...more
By Fred s (3321), Southampton on Jun 13, 19 5:02 PM
I'm quite aware of the history of wind generated electricity Fred, even the on land projects experience high maintenance costs and occasional down time for each unit due to malfunctions and general wear and tear. Now take tose units and put them 20 miles offshore, it's much more difficult and expensive to maintain them there . There is the issue of having a weather window to get vessels on site , hell there have to be vessels here designed to service the windmills. What about the costs involved ...more
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Jun 16, 19 9:02 AM
I hate paper straws. I keep a plastic one in my handbag.
By bridgewoodsmom (14), bridgehampton on Jun 15, 19 7:27 PM
It has nothing to do with a farm, farming or agriculture. They are wind turbines and they don't work which is why CA and their coastline are littered with hundreds of defunct ones.
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Jun 16, 19 7:25 AM
First hurricane here and they're all over the beach busted up and your electric bill is higher than your mortgage or rent payment.
By themarlinspike (542), Northern Hemisphere on Jun 16, 19 8:02 AM