More Deepwater Hearings Scheduled In March

The location of the proposed South Fork wind farm, about 35 miles from Montauk. Independent/Deepwater Wind

Deepwater Wind South Fork, LLC will continue its push for approval from the New York State Department of Public Service at another round of meetings scheduled next month designed to find common ground between the company and its critics.

Deepwater Wind, now owned by Ørsted/Eversource Energy, is seeking a certificate of environmental compatibility and public need for the construction of approximately 3.5 miles of submarine export offshore cable from under Beach Lane in Wainscott to the existing East Hampton substation by Cove Hollow Road.

The project has been bogged down and still needs town and federal approval in addition to the state’s through an Article 7, which allows “interveners” — and dozens of them — to participate in the process. The Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott has emerged as the project’s most consistent critic.

The group has peppered Ørsted/Eversource with requests for information, data, studies, and comparisons. One recent effort was to ask the department of public service to force the companies to provide documentation for dozens of questions the group has raised about the project. Ørsted/Eversource has sought to streamline the process by asking administrative judge Anthony Belsito to rein in the group’s motions. That strategy proved successful.

Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott acknowledged some of the information it requested is in the project application. For example, a side-by-side comparison of proposed landing sites, which includes two others in addition to Wainscott, the preferred landing point by Ørsted/Eversource. As it was argued, compelling the companies to develop a table comparing each of the proposed routes is somewhat redundant.

Belsito ruled February 12 in favor of the companies on every motion that would have required more time. Additional settlement meetings have been scheduled for March 4 to 6 at East Hampton Town Hall. The meetings are not open to the public.

Staff and intervenor testimony and exhibits will be presented on April 10, rebuttal and testimony exhibits will be displayed on May 15, and evidentiary hearings will take place from June 15 to 19.

Belsito seemed to indicate a resolve to keep the application moving along.

“I direct the CPW and Deepwater to make good faith efforts to resolve their discovery disputes in accordance with this ruling,” he wrote.

The East Hampton Town Board and its trustees have yet to strike a deal with Ørsted/Eversource, though it is apparent a majority of each board will do so in return for the right financial incentives.

At a February 6 meeting town supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc noted the companies have once again requested permission to test borings in Wainscott to glean the condition of the soil under the beach and along the path the pipe will carry electricity to the PSEG facility. The initial request was a year ago. Van Scoyoc signed off on the testing.

“I disagree we should allow testing before the Article 7 is completed,” said town board member Jeff Bragman, a frequent critic of the wind farm.

The first part of the project begins 2500 feet beyond the beach in the ocean where a hydraulic drill will penetrate the soil to a depth of at least 30 feet and emerge in the parking lot on Beach Lane about 500 feet inland.

The installation of the cable will take place under the road beds. Some extensive excavation will be required for some of the equipment to be installed underground, leading to concerns from some neighborhood residents that contaminants in the soil will be disturbed.

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