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Jun 4, 2019 3:09 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Wainscott Residents Stand Up To Wind Farm, And Get A Reaction; Lawsuit Filed Over Costs

Wainscott residents have organized in opposition against the proposal to run the power cable for the South Fork Wind Farm through their hamlet, and one has filed a lawsuit against the state seeking to shed light on the cost to Long Island's electricity ratepayers of the addition of the wind farm to the island's supply sources. Michael Wright
Jun 4, 2019 3:44 PM

With the first public hearing on the South Fork Wind Farm electrical cable route looming, residents of Wainscott have posted an organized and growing skirmish line of opposition to the cable running through their hamlet.

They may be winning some concessions from the wind farm’s developers.

Additionally, a Wainscott resident who has been a strident critic of the wind farm proposal, Simon Kinsella, has filed a lawsuit against New York State, demanding that the full costs of adding the wind farm to Long Island’s power supply sources be disclosed to Long Island Power Authority ratepayers.

In a letter to a residents group calling itself the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott last week, the president of Ørsted U.S. Offshore, Thomas Brostrøm, pleaded with Wainscott residents to support the project as a whole, even as they mount opposition to the proposed cable landing in Wainscott. He also said the company was taking a closer look at alternatives to Wainscott because of their advocacy.

In the letter, Mr. Brostrøm said that the giant wind energy company has held off conducting dozens of soil test borings along the proposed cable route in Wainscott as a “gesture of good faith” to the hamlet’s residents, and said that its engineers have been looking more closely at the details of its secondary landing site at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk.

“In response to your requests, our team has further assessed the technical and environmental viability of the Hither Hills landing site,” Mr. Brostrøm wrote. “While we are not at this time prepared to designate a change in our preferred route, we trust the suspension of the Beach Lane testing and the focus on Hither Hills demonstrates our willingness to work in good faith to find a solution that meets all of our needs.”

Ørsted officials said in discussions last week that the Wainscott landing site remains the preferred location to land the cable, largely because it would require an on-land route of just more than four miles, rather than the 11 miles plus, and potentially millions of extra dollars, that running the cable from western Montauk would require.

The East Hampton Town Board had approved the test borings in February—by a split 3-2 vote—but engineers for Ørsted never conducted them, and the window for the work being done this spring has now expired, requiring that the company seek another approval from the Town Board if and when it must conduct the sampling.

They had planned to dig, and refill, 4-foot-deep holes every 50 to 100 feet along the entire approximately four-mile route the cable would follow from Beach Lane to Buell Lane to survey the soil composition in the area where the lines would be buried.

Residents of Wainscott, dozens of whom attended a Wainscott Citizens Advisory Committee meeting on Saturday morning, June 1, took the conciliatory tone of the letter as encouragement that their growing effort to voice opposition to the Beach Lane landing site was hitting home—though with reservations.

“This is not a time to be celebrating in the end zone,” said one, who would not give his full name. “This letter makes no commitment.”

The Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott have been collecting petition signatures and encouraging residents to register to vote in Wainscott, to boost the hamlet’s electoral weight in the minds of local politicians who have supported the Wainscott landing site for the cable.

Last summer the board voted 3-2 to approve a “memorializing resolution” that indicated the town intended to negotiate a lease with the wind farm developers for running the power cable beneath town roadways. The same vote split—with councilmen Jeff Bragman and David Lys voting in the minority—approved the test borings in February.

One resident at Saturday’s meeting in Wainscott asked: “Tell us who is in favor of this so we can vote against them.”

Others implored residents to attend next week’s public hearings with the New York State Public Service Commission and voice their opposition to the landing site. One advised that “emotion” would be a key ingredient in voicing their objections.

With the hearings clearly in mind, the letter from Mr. Brostrøm also appeals to Wainscott residents for their support of the project in general, which many at Saturday’s meeting said they would give—if the cable were to land elsewhere.

“We recognize that you must continue to advocate for Wainscott in the upcoming June 11 hearing, but would respectfully request that you also make clear that your concerns are particular to the proposed Beach Lane cable route, not offshore wind energy or the project itself,” Mr. Brostrøm wrote to the leaders of the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, in a letter that was read to the those at the meeting by the group’s chairman, Alex Eldich.

He added in the letter, “You and your team have been strong and effective advocates for your position. We respect your views, even if we don’t always agree. We must allow the process, and the facts this process produces, to determine the best route for our project.”

The Hither Hills State Park landing would be similar to the project planned at Beach Lane: a horizontal drill would bore a 2-foot-wide conduit from the campground parking lot, running down as far as 30 feet beneath the beach and sea floor before emerging about 1,500 feet from shore, where it would meet the buried electrical cable running to the wind farm, 40 miles to the southeast.

The Montauk Citizens Advisory Committee has formally registered its opposition with the Town Board to the use of the state park as the landing site.

Also on Saturday, Mr. Kinsella, who has mounted a strident campaign against the wind farm nearly since it was first proposed, announced that he is filing a lawsuit seeking to have the costs of the wind farm project to Long Island electrical customers disclosed.

The impacts on electrical rates of the project have not been discussed by either the wind farm company or the Long Island Power Authority, which keeps the details of all its power purchase agreements confidential, calling them a “trade secret.” But Deepwater Wind, and now Ørsted U.S. Offshore Wind, have said that the confidentiality demands were that of the power company.

The New York State Comptroller’s Office has issued an assessment saying that the total cost of buying power from the wind farm would be about $1.6 billion but has not disclosed the rates that those costs are based upon.

Mr. Kinsella said that the LIPA-Deepwater Wind agreement in 2017 is the only such power purchase agreement for one of the several offshore wind farm projects that are planned that has not been made public in detail. His own estimates have put the price paid per kilowatt hour, based on what information the comptroller has released about the costs, at between 22 cents and 27 cents per kilowatt hour, which he says is much higher than what other power purchase agreements have settled on.

The lawsuit filed this week in state court claims that the comptroller’s office is not bound by any confidentiality requests from LIPA and must disclose its findings from the analysis of the contract with Deepwater, which was subsequently purchased by Ørsted.

“The comptroller further argued … that pricing information in an executed contract should be exempt from disclosure so that future bidding for LIPA contracts is not chilled,” Mr. Kinsella’s complaint says. “Long Islanders have no idea whether LIPA, on their behalf, has entered into a beneficial deal for them.”

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Is Kinsella part of the Fusionconfusion party? Didn't he submit a document to the BOE that required it to be notarized but wasn't because he did not understand the requirement? Didn't that result in him not getting on an election line? How can we trust anything he says on complicated issues like those related to the wind farm project when he is unable to grasp such a simple and basic requirement as getting a piece of paper notarized?
By fusioncontusion (13), East Hampton on Jun 9, 19 10:55 AM