New York State regulators granted a key approval for a wind farm planned off the coast of Montauk, but the project’s developers still have another hurdle to clear before construction can begin.
The state Public Service Commission approved on March 18 a plan to connect a 7.6-mile, 138,000-volt transmission line from the proposed offshore wind farm 30 feet under the beach in Wainscott, and linking to a substation in the Town of East Hampton. The application to construct the 15 850-foot-tall, 132-megawatt-generating turbines 35 miles off the coast is pending before the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
“With this decision, we demonstrate the clear need for the project while avoiding or minimizing adverse environmental impacts,” PSC Chair John B. Howard said. “Further, this project will play a key role in developing much needed clean-energy on Long Island.”
Billed as the first offshore wind farm in New York State, the plan sparked controversy in Wainscott, where opponents seeking to block the line petitioned East Hampton town, which previously approved the power line, for a vote to incorporate as a village, to help fight the construction. The town supervisor recently ruled the petition invalid, but the petitioners have a chance to refile.
“In the rush to be first, this route has been pushed through the approval process on an accelerated basis with indifference to whether the developers used the best available route,” said the petitioners, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, which suggested it may challenge the decision in court.
South Fork Wind LLC, whose parent companies are Ørsted and Eversource Energy, cheered the decision.
“We thank the PSC and its staff for its diligent review over a more than two-year period that included extensive analysis from experts across multiple state agencies and considerable input from the East Hampton community,” said Meaghan Wims, a spokeswoman for the company. “We expect South Fork Wind to be fully permitted by January 2022, with construction activities ramping up soon thereafter and the wind farm in-operations by the end of 2023.”