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Orsted renews look at Wainscott cable route

Orsted and Eversource, the companies jointly planning to construct and operate the South Fork Wind Farm approximately 35 miles off Montauk, have renewed a request for permission from the Town of East Hampton to conduct survey work along a proposed route of the wind farm’s export cable from a landing in Wainscott to a Long Island Power Authority substation in East Hampton.

The request, which was made last year but not acted upon despite the town board’s 3-to-2 vote to approve the work – a vote marked by sharp disagreement – is an indication that the companies are moving forward with a plan to land the 15-turbine installation’s export cable at the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott, a move that has mobilized residents both for and against that site.

“Beach Lane in Wainscott remains our preferred location for the transmission cable landing, with Hither Hills a viable alternative,” Meaghan Wims, an Orsted spokeswoman, said yesterday. This is the most direct path to the substation and would require the least disruption during installation, the developers have argued, but many residents of Wainscott oppose that plan and have advocated instead a site farther from the substation on state-owned land at Montauk’s Hither Hills.

“The final route will be determined as part of the Article VII settlement process and the town and trustees’ willingness to grant the associated real estate rights,” Ms. Wims said.

The town board will discuss the new request, Joanne Pilgrim, executive assistant to Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, said in an email on Friday.

Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, which was known as Deepwater Wind until its 2018 acquisition by the Danish company Orsted, had indicated to Wainscott residents at a meeting of its citizens advisory committee last spring that it was putting the plan to land the export cable in that hamlet on hold, at least temporarily. Responding to Wainscott residents’ opposition, the developers, according to a town official who asked not to be named, “made it clear” at the C.A.C. meeting “that Hither Hills is a viable entry point.”

Wainscott residents formed an advocacy group called Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott to oppose a landing in the hamlet and push for a Hither Hills landing instead. That, in turn, spurred another advocacy group, Montauk United, to oppose the Hither Hills site. Yet another group, Win With Wind, joined forces with Montauk United to jointly promote the Wainscott landing site.

The requested surveys include six geotechnical borings within the town-owned roadway on Beach Lane, Wainscott Stone Road, and Wainscott Northwest Road, and at the parking lot at the end of Beach Lane.

“We expect the surveys to be completed no later than May 21,” Chris Raia, an Orsted spokesman, said in an email last Thursday.

The companies have also requested permission to conduct shovel test pit surveys along the sides of those roads as well as along Wainscott’s Main Street, Sayre’s Path, Daniel’s Hole Road, Stephen Hand’s Path, and Buckskill Road. These hand-dug pits, Mr. Raia said, “will allow us to examine whether any potential archaeological resources are present along the proposed Wainscott cable route.”

The companies expect the work to commence as soon as March, depending on weather and ground conditions, and to last 14 days at most. The work would not interfere with road or pedestrian access, Mr. Raia said.

The New York State Public Service Commission, which is reviewing the application to install the transmission cable in state waters and on its subterranean path to the substation, requires the study. The commission is at present holding confidential settlement negotiations with stakeholders. Along with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, it is among the agencies that must approve the project in order for it to be constructed and operational.

The town board, and possibly the town trustees, would have to grant an easement or lease for Orsted and Eversource to land the cable at Beach Lane and bury it along its route to the substation.