A Hauppauge company wants to put two or three wind turbine generators, which could be as tall as 520 feet, in Gardiner’s Bay near Plum Island for 10 years in order to test a technology for larger offshore wind farms and allow researchers to study impacts on wildlife and the environment.
Winergy Power would place the generators 1,500 feet from the southeast shore of Plum Island and just over two miles from Orient Point, within a 200-acre area leased to the company by the state for commercial fish farming. Dennis Quaranta, Winergy’s president, said yesterday he hoped to stock the area with scallops, oysters, and striped bass by August.
The site is 3.6 miles from the north side of Gardiner’s Island, 7.8 miles from Hog Creek Point in Springs, and 13.7 miles from Montauk Harbor, according to the company’s application, which is being reviewed by the Army Corps of Engineers.
Depending on the generating power of the turbines installed, the apparatus, including its arms or rotors, will stand 445 feet or 520 feet above the mean low-water mark.
A simulated photograph shows that the taller turbines would be clearly visible from 10 miles away across the water, and could be spotted from up to 20 miles off, changing the view of the horizon from many angles.
The Plum Island Wind Park, as Winergy calls it, would generate up to 10.8 megawatts of power that would be supplied through undersea cables to the Long Island Power Authority – enough, annually, for up to 4,000 houses. According to the company, 68,000 barrels of oil would be required to generate the same amount of electricity.
Universities and government agencies would be invited to participate in studies of offshore wind at the generators as well as the environmental effects of the turbines. The turbines’ rotor blades, with a radius of 207 feet, would revolve at approximately 13 to 17 revolutions per minute, depending on the strength of the wind.
A major goal of the privately funded $26 million project, according to the company, is to test a new installation platform, which would allow wind turbines to be fully assembled on their bases in port and then towed to permanent sites. At present they must be assembled on site, limiting their placement to areas where the depth of the water is less than 70 feet. The new technology, Winergy says, would allow wind farms to be placed up to 20 miles offshore in waters up to 150 feet deep.
The company said it was evaluating 11 sites in the Atlantic, off New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, and Massachusetts.
The Plum Island Wind Farm proposal will be reviewed by the United States Coast Guard, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Fish and Wildlife Service, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the State Department of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation. The Army Corps of Engineers, which has distributed information about the project to nearby municipalities, will accept comments from the public and from other agencies through July 12. Letters may be mailed to the agency’s New York District office at the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building, New York 10278-0090.
The Army Corps has made a preliminary determination that installing the wind turbines is “not likely to affect any federally endangered or threatened species or their critical habitat.” It will decide if a public hearing has to be held.
Its decision about whether to issue a permit will be made after such matters as aesthetics, fish and wildlife, navigation, recreation, water quality, and “the needs and welfare” of the public are considered, according to the information distributed. A permit from the New York Department of State will also be required.
The East Hampton Town Board has not yet discussed the proposal. Larry Cantwell, the East Hampton Village administrator, said information would be distributed to village board members, although it was unlikely they would weigh in on something so far from the village’s boundary. However, from his own point of view, he questioned whether pursuit of one good cause – clean energy – should sacrifice another important resource.
“The natural beauty of this area is as important a resource,” he said, referring to the turbines’ visual impact.
Winergy has said that the project complies with the state’s coastal zone management program. Southold Town officials are evaluating whether it complies with the goals of that town’s coastal management program and have raised questions about the turbines’ potential impact on migratory birds. Great Gull Island, home to breeding colonies of common and roseate terns, is close to the site. The area is designated as an “important bird area” by the Audubon Society.
With attention turning toward harnessing wind energy as an alternative to the use of fossil fuels, Southold may consider adopting zoning that regulates the construction of wind turbines on land.
In East Hampton Town, where one resident’s windmill annoyed neighbors because of the noise of the blades, a special permit has been required since 1982 to construct “any mechanism designed for . . . converting wind into mechanical or electrical power.” Recently, however, town officials have discussed creating more detailed regulations.
By Joanne Pilgrim
21 June 2007
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