What is it, really, about wind that pushes otherwise reasonable people over the edge? Certainly, there is no equivalent outcry when gas lines or water mains are installed or replaced. And if those vigorous in their opposition to the Orsted Deepwater South Fork Wind Farm far out in the ocean truly wanted to do something about the cost of electricity, they could advocate for the various “demand-reduction” programs that have had some success and have room to grow. No, for all the position papers and public statements, the intense opposition cannot truly be explained.
Consider that a small neighborhood’s reaction to a proposal to route an underground cable through a portion of Wainscott has grown into a not-anywhere movement. Suddenly the leadership of the Montauk Chamber of Commerce has gotten into the act, even though any potential cable route would not pass businesses actually in Montauk. Some in Amagansett, too, are now upset that roadwork might disrupt traffic while work to tie the distant wind turbines into the grid goes on.
In one sense, it was inevitable. The Cape Wind project off Massachusetts was not built after organized protests from some residents. It was only a matter of time before the Deepwater project would be the target of a similar outcry. As we said, what is it really about wind? One thing that should be remembered is that offshore wind remains a cornerstone of America’s necessary shift to renewable energy. Enough has been said about climate change and fossil fuels, one would think, to counter local opposition. And at this point, it appears that town and New York State officials are allowing this and similar projects to move ahead.
Meanwhile, year-round and summer residents can, and should, do what they can to reduce their energy appetites. PSEG Long Island has a number of programs, including offering LED bulbs at a discount, efficiency rebates on appliances, and commercial power audits. It would be wonderful if Orsted Deepwater opponents would devote even a fraction of their energy toward these and other initiatives aimed at reducing electricity consumption and dispersing green power sources, such as rooftop solar. Unfortunately, there are no signs of such a shift.