Ørsted/Eversource Energy, which purchased Deepwater Wind, may be prepared to give up on its plan to bring an offshore cable onto Beach Lane in Wainscott.
At 4 PM October 7, as this newspaper went to press, Ørsted, which was scheduled “to hold an important settlement conference in Albany relating to the location of the transmission line” for the offshore wind project to be constructed in the Town of East Hampton, abruptly canceled the meeting, scheduled for the following day.
“Deepwater Wind South Fork hereby cancels the October 8, 2019 settlement meeting,” an announcement read. “In addition, in order to have a more productive settlement process, DWSF hereby requests that the commission appoint a settlement judge to oversee the settlement process going forward.”
At the meeting, the company was reportedly going to offer a third alternative site to bring the power ashore.
Currently, both Wainscott and a Hither Hills site on state-owned land in Montauk are being considered. The Deepwater application is under what is known as Article 7 review by the New York State Public Service Commission, the would-be host of the meeting.
Tuesday’s hearing was going to be an opportunity for involved parties to hash out differences, discuss new proposals, or settle litigation. Participants were warned that the proceedings are confidential and violators would be subject to fines or imprisonment.
“I’m hearing a third alternative for the transmission line, also in Montauk,” said Assemblyman Fred Thiele, who complained to the state that the hearing was scheduled to be held in Albany instead of on the East End, where many of the concerned parties (called “interveners”) live.
Thiele was one of three sources involved who said Wainscott’s Beach Lane might be spared the disruption of the
Leery Of Litigation
Ørsted/Eversource is said to be leery of litigation from a well-organized and funded opposition group of Wainscott citizens. Though the Beach Lane landing site is only four miles from the PSEG substation, the offshore power would be routed to it via underground cable. “They are afraid they could be caught up in litigation for years,” one involved party speculated.
In June, Simon Kinsella, on behalf of a Wainscott citizens group, filed a lawsuit designed to force the wind company and PSEG to reveal the price ratepayers would be shelling out for power drawn from the South Fork Wind Project and its 15 turbines.
Thomas Brostrøm, the president of Ørsted, responded by sending a letter to the Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott urging residents to support the project as a whole, and that Ørsted was looking at alternate landing sites for its cable.
Should the above scenario be met with a receptive ear, Ørsted will also give up a backup plan to run the cable ashore in Hither Hills and then dig an underground cable back to the Cove Hollow Road substation, a chore that would entail digging up Montauk Highway some 10 miles.
“That was never a serious proposal. That was just smoke,” a source said. “It was never going to happen.”
Instead, Thiele said the company would use the Long Island Rail Road tracks and right of way.
Meanwhile, another brouhaha is gaining strength. Ørsted announced last month that it had reached a lease option agreement with Montauk Inlet Seafood to locate a facility adjacent to the latter’s commercial fishing and packing operation off East Lake Drive in Montauk. It would be used for operations and maintenance.
“We are pleased to be locating an operations and maintenance facility in Montauk to service our South Fork Wind Farm and bring additional jobs to the area,” Brostrøm said in the September 25 statement.
Inlet, though, quickly distanced itself from the Ørsted verbiage and denied the scope of the project.
Only weeks ago, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced plans to deepen and widen the inlet navigation channel, using the spoils to shore up the property to the west, which is prone to erosion. East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said the town would support the plan.
There is far more on the line for Ørsted/Eversource, beyond the 15-turbine South Fork Wind project.
The Sunrise Wind project, right next door to South Fork Wind, calls for as many as 100 turbines to be erected in the same general area of ocean as South Fork Wind Farm. The company’s pitch to the state says it expects the project could be constructed and operational by 2024, just two years after the South Fork Wind Farm is supposed to come online.
Of course, critics have long contended the East End doesn’t even need the energy to be generated by South Fork: the peak power shortage it was conceived to address could easily be handled by a solar heating installation for a fraction of the $2.1 billion Deepwater will end up costing.
The Sunrise project is intended to furnish power to points west. The original proposal calls for the wind farm to come ashore in Brookhaven by Smith Point Beach and the William Floyd Parkway terminus and travel through Shirley via pipeline. The project’s planned interconnection point is the Holbrook and West-Bus substations in the Town of Brookhaven within the Long Island Power Authority’s service territory. The company issued a press release April 4 stating its intention to construct a new operation and maintenance hub in the greater Port Jefferson area, creating up to 100 new, full-time jobs. The Sunrise Wind team outlined plans for the O&M Hub, which would include dockage for a 250-foot Service Operation Vessel, with a warehouse and office facility in the vicinity. Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said another landing site on the Shinnecock Inlet in Hampton Bays had been bandied about at one point.
Ørsted and Eversource, which entered a 50-50 partnership agreement, now own the leases to more than 500 square miles of sea floor south of New England.
“Sunrise Wind will bring renewable energy and new economic development to New York,” said Lee Olivier, executive vice president of enterprise energy strategy at Eversource. “We look forward to partnering with New York state as a clean energy leader in the Northeast as well as with the local communities and businesses on Long Island and throughout the state.”
Ørsted/Eversource has reportedly struck a deal Con Edison Transmission and the New York Power Authority to deliver the offshore wind energy to the electric transmission grid.