South Fork Wind Developers Sign Whale Protection Plan

North Atlantic Right Whale need protection during the South Fork Wind project
North Atlantic Right Whale
Getty Images

The companies developing the offshore South Fork Wind project have inked a deal with environmental groups committing to protecting endangered whales while building the turbines on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. The two developers, Orsted and Eversource, signed the agreement with the National Wildlife Federation, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the Conservation Law Foundation, the groups said in a joint statement on June 27.

“We don’t need to choose between clean energy development and wildlife protection, and this agreement shows how we can do both,” Alison Chase, a senior policy analyst at the NRDC, told The Associated Press.

The 130-megawatt South Fork Wind project, billed as the first offshore wind farm in New York State, plans to include a dozen turbines built 35 miles off the coast of Montauk that generate enough electricity to power 70,000 homes. Onshore construction began earlier this year with completion projected for late 2023.

The goal of the agreement is to protect rare North Atlantic right whales. There is estimated to be fewer than 340 North Atlantic right whales remaining, according to marine scientists. They are threatened by changing prey and habitat caused by climate change, entanglement in fishing gear and vessel strikes.

Under the agreement, South Fork Wind will adopt monitoring measures to help ensure right whales are not close to the site during active construction. South Fork Wind will also work to reduce noises made by pile driving and implement a 10-knot speed limit for project-related vessels to cut the risk of vessel strikes.

~ With Associated Press

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