Deepwater Hearing Ahead

The wind turbines off of Block Island Durell Godfrey

At its meeting tonight, the East Hampton Town Board is expected to set May 17 as the date of a joint hearing with the town trustees on the proposal by Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island company, to construct a 15-turbine wind farm in the Atlantic some 35 miles east of Montauk. 

At issue is whether to grant Deepwater Wind an easement that would allow the company to land the wind farm’s transmission cable at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott. Deepwater Wind has offered a community benefits package in exchange for the easement. 

The proposed wind farm has been discussed by the  town board and the trustees, the latter body asserting jurisdiction over beaches and other common lands. “We are looking forward to hearing from members of the public,” said Rick Drew, a deputy clerk of the trustees and co-chairman of its harbor management committee, which has devoted several of its meetings to the proposed wind farm. “In conjunction with our 12 months of research into the project, we will be taking that into account as we look forward to making a decision on the project,” he said.

“Honestly, I can’t tell you where the board stands on a decision” about an easement, Francis Bock, the trustees clerk, said yesterday. “I think we’re going to sit through the hearing and see what the public has to say.” 

Commercial fishermen and their advocates have been almost unanimous in opposing the project, fearing disruption or destruction of fisheries. The electromagnetic field emanating from the transmission cable, and its potential to alter distribution and migratory paths of finfish, are among their numerous concerns.

“Hopefully, from my perspective, more people from the side that supports the project show up and speak their opinion,” Mr. Bock said.