Zach Attack: Deepwater A No Go

Zach Cohen, who came within a handful of votes of becoming East Hampton Town supervisor, is urging town officials to reject Deepwater Wind’s plan to build 15 wind turbines off the coast of Montauk.

Deepwater’s Project, called the South Fork Wind Farm, promises to produce “enough clean, renewable energy” and claims to be “the most affordable solution” to local clean energy needs.

Cohen said his analysis is that the project will cost ratepayers far more than anyone involved is letting on. “The starting price is at about 2.2 times the market rate paid by LIPA, the average price about three times today’s market rate, and the final price about four times the current market rate,” Cohen said.

Cohen ran an unsuccessful Democratic primary race for East Hampton Town Board last year — he lost to Jeff Bragman, who was subsequently elected to the board. “I commented about this back then. They were talking about a re-seeding in Napeague Harbor and here comes [Deepwater] wanting to run a cable through the harbor.”

Deepwater is currently planning to bring the cable ashore on a Wainscott ocean beach or, as a back up plan, on state-owned land in Napeague.

Cohen’s opposition contributed to his defeat because the local Democratic party, under pressure from Albany and Governor Andrew Cuomo, was an early supporter of the wind farm.

“It’s not a Democrat/Republican issue anymore,” Cohen said. “It looks like the pressure was coming from the top.”

Cohen believes the town needs to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. “They [The Democrats] acted in an accepting manner way too early. We should have hired independent consultants. We should have a master plan.” Cohen said the Deepwater energy would be inefficient, in addition to being costly. And it is unlikely to achieve the desired green effects of cleaner air and fossil free fuels.

“Europe went all in for wind power and it has had a minimum effect on fossil fuel generated,” Cohen said. “It’s not going to do anything for East Hampton. It’s not going to make our air cleaner.”

Cohen narrowly lost the 2011 race against the incumbent Republican Town Supervisor Bill Wilkinson in a race so close it took the Board of Elections almost three weeks to finalize the tally. The final plurality was only 11 votes.

Cohen is not done with politics — he may run for the town board this fall against David Lys, an incumbent who is filling out an expired term. Lys is a Republican but said he intends to register as a Democrat.

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