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Deepwater will file wind farm application with the state without waiting for East Hampton trustees’ approval

Deepwater Wind says it will file its massive application for the South Fork Wind Farm with the New York State Public Service Commission this month—without waiting for the East Hampton Town Trustees to vote on whether they will grant a lease to the company.

A spokesperson for the wind farm company confirmed that the application, already months behind when the company originally hoped to file, is expected to be submitted to the state this week or next.

The Trustees have not voted on a resolution to allow Deepwater to run the wind farm power cable beneath Trustees-owned beach at Beach Lane in Wainscott, or to vote on one “memorializing” their intention to do so, as the Town Board did in July for allowing the cable to run under town roads.

But Deepwater spokesperson Meaghan Whims cited the recent unanimous support of the Trustees for hiring a municipal contract attorney to represent the board in the negotiations of the lease, and said the company has taken it as a sign that the Trustees ultimately expect to hammer out an agreement with Deepwater—though she acknowledged that the application with the state also will account for the possibility that one or both of the town entities will balk when it comes to signing actual contracts.

“Now that [the] East Hampton Town Board and Trustees have voted on our proposed cable route, we are moving ahead as planned to submit our Article VII application with the [New York State] Public Service Commission,” Ms. Whims said in an email.

“Our application will include Beach Lane as our preferred route, subject to final agreements with the town and Trustees, and Hither Hills as our viable alternative route if those agreements aren’t reached.”

Since first coming to the town to discuss the coming application last year, Deepwater had said it needed town approvals in order to be able to file its application if it was to use Beach Lane in Wainscott as its landing site. But, in just the last few months, company officials have acknowledged that the actual town approvals and contracts were not a necessity but merely an assurance that their preference for a landing site was at least likely to be allowed by the town if construction of the wind farm itself is approved.

The Town Board voted, 3-2, in July to pledge its support for granting the easements needed to bury the cable beneath town roads, and then said it would hire an attorney to begin negotiations on the precise terms of the easements.

The Trustees also have been divided over support for the Deepwater proposal, and that board has not openly discussed the project in months, other than voting on the recommendation of a subcommittee of its members to hire attorney Daniel Spitzer to represent it in the negotiations.

“I think we expect to negotiate a lease with them,” Trustees Clerk Francis Bock said this week. “Depending on how that goes, whether the terms of the lease address the concerns that members of the Trustees have, I think it will have the support of the board majority, and maybe more. I hope it will.”

The State Public Service Commission will head up the review of the application, but Deepwater will have to deal with more than a dozen state and federal agencies whose various jurisdictions the wind farm will fall under. The 15 turbines the company proposes to build will be in federal waters just over 30 miles southeast of Montauk in an area known as Cox Ledge. The power cable connecting the wind farm to land will run through federal, state and town-controlled sea floor and beach.

Surveying and data collection to support the application has been underway for more than a year already and the review of the application, by more than a dozen state and federal agencies, is expected to take up to two years to complete.

Once filed, the full application will be available online through the Public Service Commission and on Deepwater’s own site, southforkwindfarm.com, as well as in printed form at the East Hampton, Amagansett, Springs and Bridgehampton libraries. The company has not pledged to put a copy of the application at the Montauk Library, where the bulk of opposition to the project, from commercial fishermen, has been rooted.