East Hampton Town officials and the company developing an offshore wind farm in federal waters, 30 miles east of Montauk Point, have reached an agreement that grants the wind farm access to town land as part of a $28.9 million deal, so long as the project gets state approval.
The South Fork Wind Farm, formerly called the Deepwater Wind project, will pay the town to be allowed access for the installation and maintenance of power export cable from up 15 offshore wind turbines that will run four miles under town roads and trustee-owned land to a Long Island Power Authority substation, the town said in a statement on Thursday. The 138-kiolvolt electricity transmission line will come onshore at Beach Lane in Wainscott, 30 feet below the beach and parking lot, and run to the substation on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton.
The cable landing in Wainscott has been strongly opposed by a group now looking to incorporate Wainscott as a village. A separate easement agreement, which looks to impose construction conditions to protect the environment and restore the road after the cable is install, is still being negotiated.
“Offshore wind energy represents an important component that will help the Town of East Hampton achieve its 100-percent renewable energy goal,” said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc. “The importance of this is only underscored when, daily, we see more and more devastating impacts of carbon pollution and climate change.”
Under the Host Community Agreement, Deepwater Wind South Fork LLC, whose parent companies are Ørsted and Eversource Energy, will pay the town $870,000 each year for 25 years, including a 2% increase after the first year. The total comes to $28.9 million, including a $100,000 in geotechnical access and license fees already paid to the town.
The payment is nearly quadruple the amount the developer first offered the town – $8 million – when discussions began when East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc took office in early 2018. The potential maximum output also increased from 90 to 132 megawatts.
The developer also will have to pay town property taxes on its onshore infrastructure, which is estimated to bring in an additional $4 million over the life of the project.
As part of the draft agreement, the developer must employ a liaison to facilitate communications between the company and the commercial fishing community, which has also spoken out with concerns, for the life of the project, the town’s statement said. “To stimulate local economic development, it also calls for the company to require its turbine maintenance contractor to establish a wind farm support facility and transfer vessel base in Montauk, provided a suitable location and required permits for such a facility can be obtained.”
“The East Hampton Town Trustees are looking forward to being able to apply the proceeds of the host community agreement to projects that will protect and restore our local environment, from maintaining the ecosystems of local waters to increasing productivity in those waters for our local fisheries,” said Jim Grimes, a deputy clerk of the Trustees.
The draft agreement is subject to approval from the Public Service Commission, which is undertaking a full environmental review of the project. Administrative law judges preside over public statement hearings and settlement negotiations. The project is also being reviewed by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The draft agreement will be discussed further during upcoming town board work sessions, and there will be opportunities for public comment.