Win Wind Criticizes Thiele

A coalition of environmental groups called Win Wind NY is “deeply disappointed” that Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. has withdrawn his support for the South Fork Wind Farm, the 15-turbine installation proposed to be constructed 35 miles off Montauk by Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind. 

“We are concerned that a leader who has championed renewable energy — and lives in a climate-fragile waterfront community — would pull away from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vision and plans for a wind energy industry to service our region’s work force, health, safety, and climate future,” said a statement issued jointly by the Sierra Club, the U.S. Green Building Council’s Long Island chapter, the Green Education and Legal Fund, All Our Energy, the Edgemere Community Garden Coalition, and the Long Island Progressive Coalition.

Mr. Thiele’s about-face last month, the group said, happened “over what appears to be a breakdown in communication” with Deepwater Wind, which since its 2018 acquisition by a Danish energy giant is known as Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, “regarding ownership of the project and its increase in size.”

The company announced last year that advances in turbine technology afforded the South Fork Wind Farm a 44-percent greater output capacity, or 130 megawatts rather than the 90 megawatts initially envisioned, which Mr. Thiele said amounted to a “bait and switch” on Orsted’s part. He also complained about a lack of transparency over the rates Long Island Power Authority customers would pay for wind energy. 

“We agree with the Assembly member that our public utilities and any developer should be transparent and accountable to the public in our democracy,” the groups wrote. “But the contract between LIPA and Deepwater Wind (now Orsted) is not the only contract that we are not privy to. LIPA never discloses details of its power purchase agreements,” the group wrote, “though we take some comfort that they are all subject to review and approval by the state comptroller and attorney general.” 

“We urge Assemblyman Thiele and Orsted to get back together and work out their disagreements,” the groups wrote. “The South Fork project is too important to the East End, to the region, and to New York State to accept a breakdown in communications.”