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Sep 17, 2019 12:11 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

State Pitches Offshore Wind As Feds Put Brakes On Review

The Block Island Wind Farm as seen from the bluffs in Montauk. Michael Wright
Sep 19, 2019 11:22 AM

New York State’s energy agency will hold a public open house on Wednesday, September 18, at Southampton High School, from 7 to 9 p.m. to discuss the state’s plans for two large ocean wind farms supplying power to Long Island and New York City.

The New York State Energy Research & Development Agency, or NYSERDA, is in the midst of a statewide information tour in the wake of its awarding bids for 1,700 megawatts of power from one wind farm southeast of Block Island, and another in the New York Bight approximately south of Long Beach.

NYSERDA staff will be on hand to explain details about the planned wind farm proposals, which were selected from more than a dozen options submitted to the state by four different energy companies. One of the bids was awarded to Ørsted, the Danish energy company that bought Deepwater Wind and the plans for the South Fork Wind Farm. The newer project, which could be up to 100 turbines, would be built in the same general area of ocean as the South Fork Wind Farm and would likely be connected to shore somewhere on eastern Long Island.

The state’s public information push comes as the federal government has tapped the brakes somewhat on the race to start erecting wind turbines in the ocean.

Last month, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced that it was putting its review of Vineyard Wind, an 84-turbine wind farm planned for the waters south of Martha’s Vineyard, on hold while it takes a “more robust” look at the potential environmental effects of the hundreds — maybe thousands — of turbines that states are lining up for the waters off the entirety of the East Coast.

Vineyard Wind’s developers had hoped to have the approvals in hand by the end of this year so that construction of the turbines could begin in 2020.

“Comments received from stakeholders and cooperating agencies requested a more robust cumulative analysis,” the agency said in an update on the status of the Vineyard Wind proposal. “Because BOEM has determined that a greater build-out of offshore wind capacity is more reasonably foreseeable than was analyzed in the initial draft EIS [environmental impact statement], BOEM has decided to supplement the Draft EIS and solicit comments on its revised cumulative impacts analysis.”

A BOEM spokesman said details of what the additional analysis will entail are not yet available.

“At this time we are still developing the cumulative impact scenario, including what will be analyzed in the Supplemental EIS,” BOEM spokesman Stephen Boutwell said in a message. “The environmental reviews of other projects will also include a broader cumulative scenario.”

Orsted says that, as of now, the additional analysis the federal agency plans to undertake and require before advancing the Vineyard Wind application is not expected to affect the South Fork Wind Farm application, which is not scheduled to be completed until next year.

The South Fork Wind Farm review had already been delayed for several months as the company expanded the survey area of sea floor so that it could present an alternative layout with more space between the turbines after fishermen voiced concerns about safety.

“The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently announced its intention to evaluate the cumulative impacts of all offshore wind farms with awarded contracts while assessing the environmental impact statement for a project sponsored by another developer,” Orsted spokesperson Meaghan Wims said. “Currently, we are not anticipating changes to our overall project schedule as a result of that decision.”

Ms. Wims said the company and BOEM are currently working on a new schedule for the review of the South Fork Wind Farm after the revised construction and operations plan was submitted in May.

There are currently seven areas, comprising more than 2,000 square miles of sea floor, that have been designated as wind energy development areas by BOEM, and the federal agency is currently considering where to create at least two large new areas in the waters off New Jersey and Long Island, which New York State has requested, and which are also expected to be designated in the coming months.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a goal for the state of drawing 9,000 megawatts of power — enough for as much as 4.5 million homes — from offshore wind, which would require at least several hundred turbines to be constructed.

Commercial fishermen have raised the most strenuous objections to the mushrooming plans for offshore wind development, with worries that the noise, vibrations or electrical emissions from the dozens or hundreds of turbines might cause traditional fish migration patterns to change. Concerns have also arisen about the impacts on whales, including critically endangered northern right whales, and birds that migrate through the vast areas of ocean that could soon sprout turbines up to 850 feet tall.

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Good article Mike! One piece missing from every discussion regarding offshore wind turbines is the cost to the consumer! While green energy production is certainly a laudable goal, the impacts , both environmental and financial have not been adequately addressed.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Sep 17, 19 1:34 PM
Yes, absolutely. Wind is not really green. It is harmful to human life, especially to the neural system. There is almost no research on the adverse effects. The turbines are huge, and not biodegradable, and they last only 20 years. They cause pollution to the Ocean, prevent rescue operations of fishermen, and during storms. Wind energy is four times more expensive than nuclear, and without subsidies, it cannot work. When they end, Long Island will be without power, with noise pollution, and giant ...more
By LilianBol (1), Brooklyn on Oct 22, 19 5:48 AM
How will America meet the growing demand for clean energy to supply households and businesses and do it at a price people can afford?

Not with offshore wind power, a source that isn’t even remotely economically viable. Although the level of offshore wind power is less volatile than land-based systems, its output is very volatile. This volatility is a result of the inconstancy of the wind speed. As a result, offshore wind needs to be cheaper than power from natural gas plants and ...more
By even flow (1023), East Hampton on Oct 22, 19 6:56 AM