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LIPA to approve wind farm 30 miles off Montauk

The Long Island Power Authority has formally recommended to its board of directors a proposal from Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island company, to construct a 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm in federally leased waters approximately 30 miles east of Montauk, the utility’s chief executive officer has confirmed.

The announcement comes ahead of LIPA’s July 20 board meeting at which it is expected to announce selections from a request for proposals issued last year by PSEG Long Island, which manages the electricity grid on LIPA’s behalf, for an additional 63 megawatts of electricity for the South Fork, to be installed between 2017 and 2019. The offshore wind farm, which could be operational by the fourth quarter of 2022, is in addition to selections from the R.F.P.

“It’s a go,” Thomas Falcone, LIPA’s chief executive officer, told The Star on Thursday. “We’re recommending this to the board for approval next week. The board is anticipated to approve it.”

Contract negotiation and permitting have yet to be completed, Mr. Falcone said, but “the nice thing about this is it is using an existing federal lease area that has already been licensed and reviews done for conflicting resources like shipping lanes and fishing. It’s in good shape.”

The proposed wind farm is to be the first phase of Deepwater ONE, which would produce up to 1,000 megawatts of electricity from turbines spanning waters from Long Island to Massachusetts and would be built in several stages. Deepwater Wind is at present building a five-turbine wind farm that will provide power to Block Island, R.I.

Demand for electricity on the South Fork has far outpaced the rest of Long Island, with particularly high usage in the summer and on weekends and holidays. “On the South Fork, we have a resource need,” Mr. Falcone said, “so we were looking at various options to meet that need.”

Deepwater Wind’s proposal not only satisfies LIPA’s renewable-energy goals, Mr. Falcone said, but it is also cost-competitive with traditional energy sources. “When we looked at the options and alternatives to meet the growing need in East Hampton and Southampton, it turns out this is the lowest-cost proposal. It makes sense to bring this generation in while also meeting some renewable energy goals our board has established.”

Jeffrey Grybowski, Deepwater Wind’s chief executive officer, said in a statement on Thursday that “New York is boldly leading the way on a clean-energy revolution that will transform the nation’s energy future. Our project is not just the best site for offshore wind in the country, it’s also the right solution to meet the South Fork’s energy demands in a clean and cost-effective way. There’s real momentum for offshore wind in the United States, and Long Islanders are leading the charge.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said in a statement on Thursday that “Deepwater Wind’s project was an integral part of the town board’s plan when it unanimously adopted the town’s 100-percent renewable energy goals. . . . The town’s policy is paving the way for renewables, wind, solar, and conservation to become a real alternative to massive transmission lines and greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels.”

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island and a member of the town’s energy sustainability advisory committee, added that LIPA’s selection of Deepwater Wind “will also mean that New York State gets a head start building an offshore wind industry in this country.” He said that Mr. Cantwell and the town board “have shown visionary leadership and deserve credit for making this possible here.”

Not everyone was cheered by the news, however. “There is absolutely nothing environmentally sound or safe about this project,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, who has been a vocal opponent of offshore wind. The construction process, she said, will be devastating to important habitat areas and migration paths.

“No one seems to understand,” Ms. Brady said. “If you want to call yourselves environmentally safe, it should be. People that work for environmental groups can’t speak publicly, but tell me personally. It’s very disheartening, and I’m very disappointed with the Town of East Hampton for not addressing it with the fishery communities.”

But a multi-year environmental review for the site in question has been completed, Mr. Falcone said, with input from stakeholders including fishing and shipping interests. “Having gone through the stakeholder process, there is always someone who is disappointed,” he said. “But that said, you have an answer as to what has been determined to be the best use.”