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Source: East Hampton Patch

Environmentalists, Town Unhappy After LIPA Meeting to Vote on Offshore Wind Farm Postponed


Posted: July 26, 2016
Originally Published: July 22, 2016

EAST HAMPTON, NY — After a Long Island Power Authority vote this week on an offshore wind energy farm proposed for more than 30 miles off Montauk was canceled, East End environmentalists voiced serious concerns.

Initially, environmentalists were set to celebrate Wednesday, cheering what they'd hoped would be a victory for the largest approved offshore wind farm — and for renewable energy.

When the meeting was abruptly postponed, after many had gathered to witness the vote to approve Deepwater Wind’s proposal to provide offshore wind power to the South Fork, the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Foundation, Renewable Energy Long Island, and the Sierra Club issued a statement reflecting their grave concerns.

“Today’s announcement to postpone LIPA’s vote for an offshore wind farm over 30 miles from Montauk is deeply disappointing," the groups said.

"Last week, Governor Cuomo issued a statement in support of the project, saying: ‘I strongly encourage the trustees to once again demonstrate New York's leadership on climate change and help achieve the state's ambitious goal of supplying 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.’"

The groups called on New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo to "follow through" on his commitment to support offshore wind energy efforts and to work with LIPA to "expeditiously reschedule the historic vote.

"When opportunity knocks, we must open the door. We need Governor Cuomo to ensure this vote happens quickly so that offshore wind power becomes a reality for New York," the statement read.

“A timely commitment to the development of the South Fork Wind Farm is not only important in achieving Governor Cuomo’s laudable goal of 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, but it’s also critical for ensuring the reliable, cost-effective and clean operation of the electric system on the South Fork. In the absence of this wind farm, LIPA will be forced to add more fossil-fueled power plants that will increase costs for all ratepayers," the statement read.

On Friday, Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said she's hopeful the meeting will take place soon.

"We do not believe at this point it had anything to do with not liking the wind farm — that this was more of a political snafu than anything relating to the actual project. It was more of a political decision than an energy decision," she said.

Esposito added, "We believe it's been postponed. We're hoping for the governor to step in and expeditiously reschedule the vote."

Sid Nathan, LIPA spokesman, said the meeting was postponed but the New York State Energy and Redevelopment Authority was handling media inquiries.

NYSERDA responded: "Offshore wind is a critical component of New York's nation-leading goal of having 50 percent of the state's electricity come from clean energy sources by 2030."

NYSERDA, the statement said, "has asked for a brief delay of the LIPA board vote so the project can be examined in the broader context of the Offshore Wind Master Plan, the development of which NYSERDA is leading for the state. The master plan and its forthcoming draft blueprint will inform decisions about the best way to manage this valuable resource in an environmentally responsible way and in order to obtain the lowest achievable offshore wind electricity cost for New Yorkers."

NYSERDA said they expect the draft blueprint to be completed in the next few weeks.

The meeting was canceled after, earlier in July, LIPA announced plans to award Deepwater Wind the opportunity to construct the largest offshore wind farm in the United States.

The proposed wind farm, to be located in federally leased waters 30 miles off Montauk, is a concept applauded by East Hampton Town and environmentalists alike.

LIPA was expected to formally approve the proposed 90-megawatt, 15-turbine wind farm east of Montauk at a board meeting Wednesday, Thomas Falcone, chief executive officer for LIPA told The Associated Press.

East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell has long supported the wind farm.

Just days before the meeting was canceled, East Hampton Town had issued a statement in support of the proposal.

In 2014, the East Hampton town board unanimously adopted the town’s 100 percent renewable
energy goals. The town has also adopted a Climate Action Plan and has been certified by New
York State as a Climate Smart Community.

“The town has supported offshore wind, and Deepwater Wind’s project was an integral part of
the town board’s plan when it unanimously adopted the town’s 100 percent renewable energy goals in
2014,” said Cantwell. “The town’s policy is paving the way for renewables, wind, solar, and conservation to become a real alternative to massive transmission lines and greenhouse-gas-emitting fossil fuels.”

Added Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby: “The town’s renewable energy goals and the hard work of many individuals who support the town board's decision really highlights how East Hampton is leading by example. “LIPA’s decision brings the 100% renewable energy goal significantly closer to reality.”

Cantwell added that offshore wind is a part of the town’s strategy to address the forecasted energy shortage on the South Fork and potentially become a source of new jobs in the wind energy industry. Wind and other projects currently being planned will "provide for more reliable, resilient, and affordable power in East Hampton," he said.

For years, town officials have considered various projects with an eye toward harnessing wind power. Most recently, in December, Deepwater Wind, an offshore wind developer based in Rhode Island, announced a proposal for a new approach to meet the growing energy need on the South Fork with a new offshore wind farm and two new battery energy storage systems.

In response to PSEG-Long Island’s request for new local energy resources serving the South Fork, Deepwater Wind is proposing to supply capacity and renewable energy from the 90 megawatt, 15-turbine Deepwater ONE - South Fork project.

“Governor Cuomo has made New York a leader in clean energy. Our new solution supports his goals by combining advanced energy storage technology and renewable energy from offshore wind to deliver clean, cost-effective energy exactly when and where it’s most needed,” Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said. “Not only will the project reduce air pollution emissions on Long Island, but it’ll also defer the need to build costly new power plants and transmission systems on the South Fork.”

This will be the first phase of a regional offshore wind farm the company is developing roughly 30 miles southeast of Montauk, far enough away to be over the horizon.

All transmission cables will be buried deep below existing roads and under shoreline features, with no overhead cables or poles.

To complement the wind farm, the company is also proposing building two new battery energy storage facilities – one in Montauk and the other in Wainscott.

The facilities will consist of lithium-ion battery technology, which will be designed and installed by General Electric, and will be located on industrially zoned sites on Industrial Road in Montauk and at the Wainscott Commercial Center, storing a combined 15 megawatts of energy.

The facilities are slated to be operational by 2018.

The unique combination of renewable generation with energy storage provides a cost-effective solution to two challenges.

First, by delivering clean energy directly to LIPA’s existing substation in East Hampton, this proposal serves the growing need on the South Fork without adding new oil-fired power plants or larger transmission lines.

Second, by delivering significant quantities of renewable energy to Long Island, the proposal will help to satisfy LIPA’s commitment to procure 280 MW of on-island renewable capacity; facilitate the Town of East Hampton’s Board mandate to achieve 100 percent renewable energy use by 2030; and support Governor Cuomo’s plans to mandate that half of all power used by New Yorkers be generated from renewable sources by 2030.

Construction on Deepwater ONE - South Fork could begin as early as 2019, with commercial operations by 2022.

Deepwater ONE will produce enough energy to power approximately 50,000 homes, displace tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, and improve air quality on the South Fork.

In July 2013, Deepwater Wind won the 30-year lease to develop the Deepwater ONE project in federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf.

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's first-ever competitive lease auction for offshore wind covered two parcels, totaling approximately 256 square miles in the Atlantic Ocean 30 miles east of Montauk.