BETHLEHEM – The Port of Albany’s offshore wind tower turbine project has fallen months behind on its aggressive two-year construction schedule as it awaits needed permits from both the state and federal governments.
“We’re a little bit behind,” Port of Albany CEO Rich Hendrick to the Times Union on Wednesday. “It’s not that bad.”
Hendrick was asked about the construction schedule for the $350 million project, which is taking place on roughly 80 acres of land on the Hudson River in Glenmont, after new details about the projected construction schedule emerged in a March 25 letter the port sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
In the letter, obtained by the Times Union, the port sought a special waiver from DEC to begin cutting down all the trees on the site, known as Beacon Island, without obtaining all of the required permits. The letter cited the need to clear trees immediately so the port could then compact all the existing soils under several feet of fill – a process that takes at least three months.
DEC awarded the waiver to the Port of Albany on March 31, and the tree-cutting was completed in April.
But the soil-compaction process has not started yet, even though the port was planning to start that process, officially known as soil surcharging, on April 20. The soil compaction was expected to be completed by the end of this month.
Hendrick told the Times Union that the soil surcharging has not yet started and that process won’t start until the port obtains all of its state and federal permits. It is unclear when that will be. Hendrick said the stumps of the trees need to be taken out and the property graded before the soil compaction can go forward.
The Port of Albany was awarded a $29.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation last year to pay for upgrades at the site needed to build the offshore wind turbine tower manufacturing facility, which will supply several new offshore wind farms being built off Long Island by a Norway company called Equinor.
The project, seen as an economic boon to the Capital Region with the creation of 500 jobs, has support from the highest levels of government in order to meet the state’s climate change goals.
However, it appears that the permitting process may be slowing down the project, which needs to be completed by December 2023, according to contracts that Equinor has with the port to have the site operational by then.
A spokeswoman for Equinor said the company is not directly involved in the permitting process, which is the port’s responsibility.
“We are confident that this project, which will create America’s first offshore wind tower and transition piece manufacturing facility, will create jobs, bring economic benefits to the area, and serve as the beginning of an exciting new offshore wind industry that is being responsibly developed in the state of New York,” said Lauren Shane, senior communications manager for Equinor Renewables US.
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