Millennials aren’t the only ones leaving Long Island for trendy Brooklyn.
Try all those promised wind turbine manufacturing jobs.
In 2014, when Deepwater Wind was seeking to gain traction with Long Island opinion makers about the benefits of their proposal to build a massive wind farm 30 miles off Montauk, among the incentives they offered was the creation of a turbine assembly facility on Long Island. They told labor, government and environmental leaders that Deepwater would employ hundreds fabricating the various elements required for these complex and costly structures.
It was an impressive pitch because they pointed out that a Long Island location such as Calverton would be ready made for such a facility, given its proximity to the water, access to skilled construction labor, and the ability to bring materials in for assembly and quickly tow them out to sea for installation.
Now comes this news from Fabulous Brooklyn. According to a published report in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Deepwater Wind is seeking to “establish a major assembly hub in Brooklyn that would support construction of the largest offshore wind farm in the United States, proposed for 30 miles east of Montauk. That factory would generate more than $80 million in economic activity and create hundreds of jobs, said the company, Deepwater Wind, which also plans to create a workforce training program.”
Talk about a gale force wind of duplicitous salesmanship.
According to The Eagle, …”scores of construction engineers, lawyers, engineers, pilots and other contractors met Deepwater Wind officials in Downtown Brooklyn to scope out the opportunities for the wind farm…” They quote the same executive who was the point person in convincing Long Island officials that their project’s manufacturing would be done on the island. In hindsight, he didn’t mean our part of the Island.
“‘Help us build this project,’ Deepwater Wind Vice President Clinton Plummer told would-be sub-contractors about his Montauk plan. ‘”We expect to put several hundred people to work,’” Plummer is quoted in the borough’s newspaper.
Mr. Plummer went on to recite a nearly word-for-word script he offered Long Islanders, telling the Eagle’s reporter, “…(we will) put a lot of people to work doing iron work, steel fabrication, painting and other hands-on blue collar, good paying union jobs…”
So it would appear that job creation seems to be the mantra for Deepwater no matter which audience they are addressing. A trade industry reprint of Newsday’s Michael Dobie’s glowing report on Deepwater’s Rhode Island project in October of 2017, is headlined “Wind power creates jobs.”
Gov. Cuomo has also been seduced by the prospect of an industry creating Long Island manufacturing jobs. His January press release stated, “(renewable energy)… “creates good-paying jobs while protecting Long Island’s natural beauty and quality of life.”
Even for turbines, this is a lot of spin.
And much like the way they identified Calverton as a specific location, Deepwater Wind told attending Brooklynites that he envisions Sunset Park as a prime location for a factory that would assemble their Montauk wind farm components. One wonders if he told his Brooklyn gathering that in 2015 Mr. Plummer told Crains that the Rockaways would be a good place for a wind farm. One also wonders if he told his Brooklyn audience that Deepwater is behind in filing crucial permits for their Montauk project because East Hampton Township is insisting on more details before it agrees to allow the critical undersea power cable to come ashore in tony Wainscott.
The issues of whether renewable wind energy is a self-supporting business model, or whether Long Island even needs the additional megawatts, can be debated elsewhere. The region would like to know when did Calverton disappear as a venue for wind turbine manufacturing support, and why didn’t you tell us at that time? What alternatives do you have if East Hampton Town says “no” to power cable access on their property? Or better yet, where is Deepwater Wind’s integrity, candor and transparency because as any Islander fan will tell you, Brooklyn doesn’t work for me.
Ronald J. Rosenberg, a graduate of St. John’s University Law School and resident of Old Westbury, is senior founding partner of Rosenberg, Calica & Birney LLP, a Garden City law firm.