Deepwater Wind is now considering connecting the underwater cables for its future South Fork Wind Farm turbines at three points on the ocean side in East Hampton Town.
Parking lots at the end of Napeague Lane in Amagansett, Hither Hills State Park in Montauk and Beach Lane in Wainscott are now under consideration as well as the two spots on the north side that were the first to be considered: at the end of Fresh Pond Road in Amagansett and near the abandoned Smith Meal Factory at the western end of Napeague State Park.
The cables would transport to the South Fork up to 90 megawatts of electricity produced by 12 to 15 wind turbines in the ocean 30 miles southeast of Montauk, ultimately linking up with the electrical grid in Buell Lane in East Hampton.Clint Plummer, Deepwater’s vice president of development, fielded questions from a full house at Scoville Hall in Amagansett last week at a discussion hosted by the East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Committee and the Town Trustees Harbor Management Committee. Mr. Plummer reiterated that the proposed wind farm is meant to solve a power deficit in East Hampton and Southampton towns that has been predicted by the Long Island Power Authority.
Deepwater, which is based in Rhode Island, has been conducting an offshore survey to find the appropriate place to install the power cables for the turbines, Mr. Plummer told those in attendance. The firm has also been conducting geophysical and geotechnical surveys to determine the species that live on the ocean floor and could be affected by the presence of the turbines.
“The feedback from the community is shaping what this project will look like to make it work best for the community,” Mr. Plummer said. “The design hasn’t been finalized yet and we are still not done with our public engagement. We want to make sure there’s a lot more visibility and transparency with this project.”
Fishermen have been the project’s staunchest opponent, and were so again at last week’s meeting.
Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said that she and the association “do not support” the construction of the turbines, arguing that they can kill any fish with a swim bladder, as well as larvae. She said turbine noise can confuse migrating fish and that the electricity the turbines generate can attract sharks that kill large game fish. Ms. Brady described the proposed wind farm as an “industrial” project that does not belong in the same waters commercial fishermen use to make a living.
“We provide food for the nation and when electricity goes out, we still need to feed people and that’s what we do,” Ms. Brady said. “Please reconsider this.”
“This is threatening our way of life,” chimed in Brad Loewen, chairman of the East Hampton Town Fisheries Advisory Committee.
“Only the fishermen have something to lose here,” he said. “We live our heritage out there every day, that’s why we’re so concerned about this.”
Manny Vilar, a candidate for East Hampton Town supervisor, suggested that an alternative would be to use microgeneration, which would involve producing power on a smaller scale. He also added concerns about how durable the turbines would be during construction in the event of a hurricane.
“In light of the recent disasters, is there a mechanism in place to allow resiliency for the construction involved in this?” asked Mr. Vilar.
On the other hand, Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment said that wind turbines are a far better option than fossil fuel.
“We’re living in an age using old technology that’s bad for the fish and bad for the earth,” she said. “Wind power is not perfect, but it is our job to choose large-scale energy that has the least impact on our environment.”
Adding the three ocean landings to those under consideration was an attempt to satisfy baymen who work the north side, according to Mr. Plummer. He assured those at the meeting that installing the cables under the parking lots could not be disruptive and said that after being installed the cable will be accessed through a manhole cover in the parking lot.
Mr. Plummer said that while Deepwater has not made a final decision on where specifically the wind turbines will be placed, or what the land route will be for the cable, an onshore survey is being conducted to find the best route to distribute the power with the least disruption to local residents.
The Long Island Power Authority, for which PSEG manages operations, signed a contract with Deepwater last year to purchase electricity from the wind farm for 20 years starting in 2022.
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