Now More Megawatts

New turbines mean farm could power 70,000 homes

The South Fork Wind Farm, initially proposed as a 90-megawatt installation located approximately 35 miles off Montauk, is now expected to deliver up to 130 megawatts because of more advanced turbines than those originally planned for, according to officials of Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, the Rhode Island company known as Deepwater Wind until its acquisition, completed this month, by the Danish energy company Orsted. 

A wind farm producing 130 megawatts could power around 70,000 Long Island residences, Clint Plummer, Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind’s head of market strategies and new projects, said on Tuesday. 

“Advances in the turbine technology mean the South Fork Wind Farm will use larger and more efficient turbines than initially envisioned,” Mr. Plummer told The Star in an email earlier this month. The initial proposal for the 15-turbine installation, made in 2015, was based on 6-megawatt turbines, he said, whereas 8, 10, and 12-megawatt turbines have since become available. 

The company has yet to select a turbine vendor, Mr. Plummer said, but included a range of sizes in the construction and operations plan it submitted to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management in June, “to ensure we will have the opportunity to implement the best available technology.” 

On Tuesday, he said, “All of the science, engineering, and environmental analysis has taken this into account” in the company’s applications submitted to federal, state, and local permitting authorities. “We’re now pleased that B.O.E.M. and the New York State Public Service Commission are going through their reviews and taking public input.”

Before its acquisition by Orsted, Deepwater Wind, which built and operates the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, the nation’s first offshore wind farm, submitted an interconnection request to the New York Independent System Operator to assess the receiving capacity of the Long Island Power Authority substation off Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton, where the proposed wind farm would connect with the grid, Mr. Plummer said. “The resulting interconnection studies show that the substation can accommodate a maximum of approximately 130 megawatts, or approximately 40 megawatts more than the 90 megawatts already under contract with LIPA,” he said. 

“The footprint will not change,” David Gaier, PSEG Long Island’s director of communications, said of the South Fork Wind Farm. (PSEG Long Island manages the electrical grid on LIPA’s behalf.) “Nothing will really change as far as the viewscape.” The turbines, he said, will be “so far out in the ocean that they still won’t be visible” from the shore. 

LIPA will purchase all of the electricity produced by the wind farm, its board of directors having voted last week to accept a deal Orsted negotiated with PSEG Long Island to purchase the additional electricity, Mr. Plummer said on Tuesday. The additional power, he said, would be priced lower than the original 90-megawatt capacity. “In the case of this incremental capacity, the addition of up to 40 megawatts will be purchased by LIPA at a rate that is significantly less than the original contract.” 

“We’re in the middle of the process,” Mr. Plummer said, “but remain on schedule to have the South Fork Wind Farm in service by the end of 2022.”