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New Allies Push Wainscott Wind Cable Landing

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 15:00

Montauk United, Win With Wind want Beach Lane

Win With Wind, a group that formed in the spring to advocate for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, and Montauk United, a citizens group advocating for quality-of-life issues in that hamlet, have joined forces to support a Wainscott landing for the proposed South Fork Wind Farm’s export cable

Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind’s choice of the site in question, the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane, has outraged many Wainscott residents, who formed an association to argue for another landing site. Orsted subsequently identified New York State-owned property at Hither Hills in Montauk as an alternative, which promptly angered residents of that hamlet.

The portion of the 15-turbine wind farm’s export cable that would lie buried under state waters is presently under review by the New York State Public Service Commission.

“Montauk United and Win With Wind are united in our support of the preferred landing spot for the export cable to come ashore at Beach Lane in Wainscott,” reads a statement issued exclusively to The Star. “We are convinced, after careful study and consideration, that Beach Lane causes the least disruption and offers the most benefits for the entire community.”

The Beach Lane site, the statement continues, “would require the onshore cable to be installed a distance of 4.1 onshore miles to its destination,” the Long Island Power Authority substation in East Hampton. “The alternative site, Hither Hills, would require the cable to travel a distance of 11.9 miles and would be installed through Amagansett and East Hampton Villages (and their respective Main Streets).” A Beach Lane landing would also mean a construction time span of less than one year, as opposed to two years for the longer route, the groups’ joint statement said.

“Moreover, if the Beach Lane site is chosen, the Town of East Hampton will retain a degree of local control with the ability and the stated intent to require the beach underground cable (30 feet below the beach) to be installed during the offseason. Local government, including the town trustees, would have the ability to insist on the most rigorous environmental review and safeguards.”

Should the Montauk site be selected, the statement continues, “the underground cable would come ashore and be installed entirely on state property for the full 11.9-mile length, with no local oversight and control of the project.”

“The choice of Beach Lane as the preferred site for the offshore cable to come ashore was determined after almost a year of research and the consideration of numerous other sites. We believe that the choice of Beach Lane is the better choice and we urge town officials to approve this preferred landing site.”

The groups have launched a petition at ipetition.com. It had 340 signatures as of yesterday.

Judith Hope, a former East Hampton Town Supervisor and an organizer of Win With Wind, said that the joint effort of Win With Wind and Montauk United resulted from a visit she made to Montauk earlier this year to meet with residents about the proposed wind farm. “I was garnering support for offshore wind, with no thought of a site” for the export cable’s landing, Ms. Hope said. There, she met Tom Bogdan of Montauk United. “We felt that a grassroots effort could be beneficial in this situation. We felt by joining forces we would be able to . . . better send out our message.”

“We saw that we had mutual goals and decided to combine our efforts,” Mr. Bogdan said. “The concept was, what is best for the community of East Hampton, who is going to be affected, and how badly? When we talked about that and went deeper, we realized we wanted to form a united front.”

Offshore wind, Mr. Bogdan said, has proven its value in Europe and, more recently, in the United States. (Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind was known as Deepwater Wind when it constructed and began operation of the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind farm.) “It is the future,” he said of offshore wind, “there’s no question about it.”

“This is not a ‘keep it out of Montauk’ effort,” Mr. Bogdan said. “This is what is best for our community in this particular project.”

The groups’ online petition acknowledges some residents’ opposition to the wind farm, though not those of Wainscott. The groups “know that some of our local fishermen have raised concerns and we take those very seriously,” it states. “We stand with them and we will work to see that an agreement is reached prior to the project moving forward.”

In exchange for easements and/or leases from the town board and trustees that would allow the export cable to land at the ocean beach in Wainscott, Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind has offered a package of community benefits. That offer would be rendered inoperative if the cable lands on state property, the company’s officials have said.