Wind farm cable would come ashore in Wainscott; Company would fund fisheries and scenic improvements
Deepwater Wind has told the East Hampton Town Board that it has identified Beach Lane in Wainscott as the preferable place for the cable from the 15-turbine wind farm planned southeast of Montauk to come ashore and connect to the South Fork power grid.
The site would allow the cable to run beneath 10 feet of hard pan, protected from erosion and far below sands that shift drastically with storms, a company representative told the board on Tuesday at Town Hall.
It would also provide the shortest on-land route, beneath lightly traveled local roads, to the PSEG substation near Buell Lane in East Hampton Village, and would not require major disruptions of traffic on Montauk Highway while the power cable is buried.
Along with paying the town for the use of part of the road right-of-ways between Beach Lane and the PSEG substation near Buell Lane, the company will also pay to bury the electrical utility lines along all of Beach Lane and along a particularly scenic stretch of Wainscott Main Street. Additionally, the company is pledging to give the East Hampton Town Trustees $600,000, in two dedicated funds, for improving fisheries habitat and other environmental improvements on Town Trustees-controlled wetlands and bay bottoms.
“We’ve been hearing a lot about what’s important in the community,” Clint Plummer, Deepwater’s vice president for development, told the Town Board at the work session. “We’ve pledged that we not only leave things better than we found them but that we leave the community better off. We’ve heard the fishing community should be helped. So the package we put forward today is intended to respond to all those points.”
Tuesday’s presentation to the Town Board was the first of an informational push the company is holding as it prepares to file its applications for permission to construct the wind farm. The company’s technical staff will attend a meeting of the East Hampton Town Trustees on Monday, December 11, to discuss some more details of the findings of environmental surveys and the construction process of the turbines and running the power cable to shore.
Mr. Plummer said the Rhode Island-based company will stage its maintenance and operations crews and equipment for the South Fork Wind Farm, as the project is dubbed, in Montauk for the duration of the 25-year anticipated life of the turbines, and will make an effort to hire as many people from the local community as possible to fill those and other positions. The Block Island Wind Farm, which is just five turbines, has a full-time staff of six people, he said.
Deepwater has signed a contract with the Long Island Power Authority to supply 90 megawatts of power from the wind farm for 20 years, starting in 2022. The turbines would provide approximately enough power to supply 50,000 homes on the South Fork, Deepwater has claimed, and help LIPA and PSEG reduce their reliance on fuel-fired power plants.
The company is still in the process of gathering data about the environment around the sites where the turbines would be anchored to the bottom and along the path the cable will follow through the sea floor toward the Wainscott shoreline, in anticipation of filing its official applications with various state and federal agencies early next year.
The company has said the review of the applications is expected to take two years and construction of the turbines another two years.
On Tuesday, Mr. Plummer said the company decided the Beach Lane site was the best place to bring the cable ashore because of the short over-land route to the PSEG substation. Once ashore, the cable would be buried under Beach Lane, Wainscott Main Street, Wainscott Stone Road and Hedges Lane to the Long Island Rail Road tracks in Wainscott, where it would run east to connect to the substation.
At least one lane of traffic would be open on all the roads during the construction and no work would be done between Memorial Day and Labor Day. When the work was done, Deepwater would pay to repave all the roads under which the cable was buried, according to Tuesday’s presentation.
The company will also be picking up the tab to bury the overhead utility lines along Beach Lane and the stretch of Wainscott Main Street running between Sayre’s Path and Five Rod Highway. The area, which provides sweeping views across farm fields and Wainscott Pond, has been designated a scenic area of statewide significance. Burying the lines in the area has been a goal of Wainscott residents in the past and could cost upward of $1 million.
Bringing the cable ashore will not disturb the beach itself, the company has said, because the cable will be drawn through a narrow tunnel drilled horizontally from a site in the Beach Lane parking area, through the hard substrate beneath the beach to a point some 2,000 feet offshore where it will connect with the cable running from the turbines. The cables are about 6 inches in diameter.
Deepwater had been considering five possible sites for landing the cable. In its initial presentation of its plans it had offered only two sites for consideration, both in Amagansett and both requiring that the cable be run through the bottom of Gardiners Bay. After objections from fishermen were backed up by town officials, the company turned to looking at three oceanfront sites—the other two in Napeague.
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