The plan to build 15 wind turbines over the horizon off Montauk Point has been moving along smartly. Someday soon, the turbines will provide enough environmentally correct electricity to power every home in the Hamptons.
But in early February, the hamlet of Wainscott, where the wind turbine underground cable would come ashore and hook up to the power grid, declared it intended to incorporate into a village. With that, no underground power line would be allowed. And a battery of lawyers—some of the most powerful lawyers in the country live in Wainscott—fired off lawsuits to stop that cable from coming. Have it come ashore elsewhere. But Not In Our Backyard.
This threat caught all our government officials flat-footed. The Town of East Hampton was shocked. The county legislature was stunned into inaction. And when Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he could not stand up to an incorporated Wainscott, the issue went to Washington, D.C., where, thankfully, President Joe Biden dropped everything, declared a state of emergency, and called all parties to the White House to sit and work out a solution to this problem, keeping the meeting going day and night for however long it would take.
This is one of President Biden’s trademarks. Talking things through. Reaching compromises.
“Environmentally correct energy is the only way to stop global warming,” Biden said. “We’ll stand up to these Wainscott lawyers. And we’ll hammer out some sort of compromise with them.”
The meeting was behind closed doors. And it lasted four days and nights. But yesterday, the bleary-eyed press secretary to the president came out to tell the media the desired compromise was reached.
“Not everybody got everything they wanted,” Press Secretary McKracken said. “Some people got half a loaf, some people got a quarter of a loaf, and others just a crumb. But everyone left the meeting both happy and sad at the same time, which is a hallmark of what happens when everybody has to give a little.”
McKracken then proceeded to thank the people who attended this private meeting, which gave everyone in the media the sliver of information they needed to interview everyone who attended.
Former President George W. Bush was there. “It was mission accomplished,” he said.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was there, looking fresh as a daisy in spite of the marathon meeting. “The windmill will be in place,” she said through an interpreter. “If it had been stopped it would have set a bad precedent for Europe, other than Britain.”
Powerful Wainscott Lawyer Horace Fetchem of the law firm Fetchem and Ketchem said “No electric cable will be touching sacred Wainscott soil.”
Former President Donald Trump came up for the occasion. “As I correctly pointed out, the underground cable is a Chinese plot designed to corrupt patriotic American minds by using unstoppable underground radio waves.”
Our Congressman Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), wearing a red MAGA hat, said, “whatever our president said, it’s true.” And Zeldin made it clear he was speaking about President Trump.
Former President Barack Obama was there, looking fresh as always. “Michelle waited for me the whole time out in the car,” he said.
Wainscott resident Harry O’Hara, who had organized a group insisting the other hamlet residents were just shamefully fighting the cable Not-in-My-Backyard-fashion, said, “The project is going ahead. Wainscott will proudly lead the nation.”
And East Hampton Historian Beth Cooper said, “This is a triumph not only for the environment, but also for our treasured historic traditions.”
Although the agreed-upon compromise has not yet been made public, Dan’s Papers, by interviewing a sound man in charge of microphones and speakers at this marathon meeting, told us the outcome. Here are the highlights.
There will not be 15 wind turbines. There will be only one, but it will be gigantic. Located just 200 yards offshore of Wainscott where every Wainscotter can see it and admire it will be a wood-shingled replica of an 18th century Hampton windmill. But it will be 900 feet tall and when its arms turn, it will provide the energy to equal all that the proposed wind turbines could.
The cable leading from the windmill to the Wainscott shoreline will not be underground. It will be high overhead, supported by a spectacular and historically correct stone replica of a Roman aqueduct extending from the cap of the windmill, over the beach, and all through the historic community of Wainscott to a telephone pole at the East Hampton electrical grid. From there its electricity can be brought down and sent off separately to power all the homes in the Hamptons.
The stone aqueduct will not only hold up the power cable, but, like other Roman aqueducts, carry a stream of water. At the power grid, a desalinization plant will convert the seawater into fresh water in case the underground aquifer gets compromised. (A proposal to have this aqueduct also serve as a children’s water slide was tabled pending a future study from a committee created for that purpose.)
Another perk: Because this giant windmill will be so close to the shore, it will be visible only to the Wainscotters, a proud reminder of heritage, history, the environment and how their community alone is pioneering the new wind power age for the future. And in celebration, the windmill will throw off a spectacular half an hour’s display of fireworks when high winds come at night and speed up the windmill blades — another exclusive perk for Wainscotter eyes only.
Toward the end of this marathon meeting, only one group of attendees remained unpersuaded. This group consisted of representatives of the oil and gas industries.
But President Biden, in a spectacular and genius display of his accommodating abilities, proposed, and got approval by a unanimous but very hoarse voice vote, having the giant windmill sit atop the steel platform of a hidden underwater oil rig that would automatically pump oil whenever the wind eased and the windmill blades stopped turning for a half hour.
“Genius,” said an oil industry representative who was at the meeting. “The first oil rig offshore of the Hamptons. My hat is off to this president,” he concluded, tapping his yellow construction helmet briefly.