There were two important developments in the news last week that were of great importance to the Hamptons. One is that our power supplier, PSEG Long Island, predicts there might be power brownouts next summer. With their current setup, they are predicting they might fall 8 megawatts short at peak demand if, for example, on a hot day everyone were to turn on their air conditioners at one time. As a result, they are bringing out two portable power generators on the backs of tractor trailer trucks to the East End. One will be parked at the Amagansett power station by the railroad station, and the other will be in Montauk at the power station on Industrial Road. If an overload develops somewhere at one or the other power station, they will be turned on. Otherwise they sit quietly. These generators run on compressed gas, which, a spokesman says, is better for the environment than the big diesel-run generators now in use.
Interestingly, there is a power surplus on the western end of the island. Power needs remain steady, but fuel saving measures are in effect. These measures are also in effect in the Hamptons, but the continued development of the East End’s oversized mansions brings a greater need for more electricity. It doesn’t help, for example, if a couple comes out to their 10,000-square-foot McMansion for the weekend, turns on all the lights and then leaves on Monday with a computer system that continually turns lights on and off all week to make the place look occupied to potential burglars.
It was originally thought possible, according to East Hampton Supervisor Larry Cantwell, to borrow some of the power from the west to handle the shortage here, but overhead lines in place that would carry this power are not adequate to handle it, and the general public does not take kindly to building more.
The second item in the news last week seems to solve the problem of the first, although it would take several years to put in place if approved.
Deepwater Wind, a New England company, is meeting with LIPA, which oversees the electricity PSEG provides us, to consider a contract to build new offshore turbines capable of delivering some 90 megawatts to us, enough to power 50,000 homes, which is practically all the homes here.
Deepwater Wind has already constructed five enormous wind turbines out in the ocean three miles just southeast of Block Island. They are clearly visible from Block Island and it is said you can see them from Montauk on very clear days, if you are on a hill or standing on your tiptoes. Before the end of 2016, these turbines are scheduled to be turned on and, with their link-up undersea, will begin providing 30 megawatts of power to 12,000 homes in Block Island and Rhode Island. Could we tap into that wind? Get power from the east rather than the west? The answer is yes. And the project might be ordered as soon as this upcoming meeting.
The plan on the table would reportedly have them build a South Fork Wind Farm of 12 turbines, 30 miles off Montauk and 15 miles southeast of Block Island. These turbines will not be visible from Long Island, they say. Each turbine will provide 8 megawatts of power, so the total would be nearly 100 megawatts, which is enough to provide power to almost every home existing in the Hamptons. Cables would come underwater to shore and continue underground to the power stations in Montauk, Amagansett and East Hampton. You’d not see them, either. A bonus would be that when going underground from Amagansett to East Hampton, PSEG should be able to take all the giant utility poles down that carry the power now, because those cables could also be put underground into the trenches dug for the wind farm cables. Maybe the utility lines along Amagansett’s main street could go there, too.
Deepwater has a lease on about 250 square miles of sea bottom south of Long Island, Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. Deepwater’s wind farm going live will be the first offshore wind power operation in the country. Wind is a gift from God. This helps save the planet. I cannot imagine anyone objecting to this. But I’m sure some people will come up with something.