How Clean Is Clean Energy?

Hamptons Editorial

The recent contentious hearing over an offshore wind farm to be built in East Hampton Town, if nothing else, starkly illustrates how little the town has done to foster in the era of clean energy.

On May 20, 2014, the East Hampton Town Board, under Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell, unanimously adopted a resolution to meet 100 percent of community-wide electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2020. Furthermore, the town promised to meet 100 percent of community-wide energy consumption in all sectors (electricity, heating, and transportation) with renewable energy sources by 2030.

The town board members and Cantwell then proceeded to soak up nationwide praise from forward-looking communities on the forefront of the country’s conversion to clean energy . . . and then did absolutely nothing to meet the goal. The town has not advanced a single meaningful project to produce clean power.

It’s little wonder the remaining incumbents on the board so eagerly endorsed the Deepwater Wind offshore wind project when it came to the fore in 2017, despite warnings from the opposing candidates and fishing industry representatives that the wind turbines weren’t all they were cracked up to be.

In the same time span, Riverhead Town and many other municipalities are actually doing what East Hampton said it was going to do. The company that operates a solar farm in Calverton, sPower, plans to begin construction on a second one in June, and in March, announced a third solar farm that will link the three projects.

Wait: Didn’t they tell us the LIPA board preferred offshore wind projects, and didn’t the LIPA board turn down land-based proposals that would have produced power at a much lower rate when it gave Deepwater the green light?

One of the main reasons the East Hampton candidates supported Deepwater, in the words of Peter Van Scoyoc, a town board member who ran for and now holds the town supervisor seat, said, “We have to move away from our dependence on fossil fuel.”

Now we learn every megawatt of electricity produced by a wind turbine must be matched by an equal amount produced by fossil-fuel plants: that’s a far cry from the “clean” energy envisioned.

Every resident and every commercial property owner should be given incentives to install solar, and the town should be free to explore every clean energy source including, but not limited to, offshore wind farms.

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