Orsted and Eversource, which are jointly developing the proposed South Fork Wind Farm to be situated approximately 35 miles off Montauk, have filed an update to the project’s Construction and Operations Plan with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The move coincides with the departure of Clint Plummer, who was Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind’s vice president for development.
Newsday reported on Tuesday that the federal government’s “Permitting Dashboard” website lists the environmental review and permitting status of the 15-turbine installation and its transmission cable, which would come ashore in the Town of East Hampton, as “paused.” An overall project timetable in graph form lists each of several reviews, including the Construction and Operations Plan, environmental impact statement, and those pertaining to fisheries and protection of marine mammals, as paused as well.
Orsted, the Danish energy company that acquired Deepwater Wind of Providence, R.I., in 2018 and then joined with the Connecticut energy company Eversource on the South Fork Wind Farm and other offshore wind projects, has set a timeline that would have the wind farm operational by December 2022. The federal government’s pause on it and on Vineyard Wind, a proposed wind farm jointly under development by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners and Avangrid Renewables, have put their respective timelines in doubt.
Vineyard Wind, based in New Bedford, Mass., issued a statement last week in which Lars Pedersen, its chief executive officer, said that its 2022 target date for completion “is no longer expected.”
In an email yesterday, Meaghan Wims, an Orsted spokeswoman, provided a statement that she said mirrored that given to Newsday. In it, she said the Article VII review, a process under the state public service law for any application to construct and operate a major electric or fuel gas transmission facility, “remains on-track, and we expect to complete the settlement process in the coming months. Meanwhile, we filed an update to the Construction and Operations Plan with the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Friday.”
Ms. Wims said that the updated Construction and Operations Plan would be made available once it has been posted to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s website.
The wind farm’s developers “continue to monitor developments at the federal level,” Ms. Wims said. “While it is too early to say the exact impact that those delays may have on our timeline, we are watching the federal permitting process closely.”
President Trump has made multiple statements indicating hostility to offshore wind, offering no evidence to support assertions such as his 2019 claim that wind turbines cause cancer. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, on the other hand, is a strong supporter of offshore wind as a component in the state’s targets toward achieving a zero-emission energy infrastructure.
The proposed South Fork Wind Farm is controversial, with commercial fishermen almost uniformly opposed, along with property owners in Wainscott, where Orsted officials identified the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane as its preferred landing site for the wind farm’s transmission cable. A group called Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott was formed to oppose the cable landing in that hamlet, calling instead for a landfall at state-owned land at Hither Hills in Montauk.
The website Politico Pro reported on Tuesday that Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, members of which claim to support offshore wind in the abstract, “has spent at least $28,000 in advertisements urging the Public Service Commission, New York’s energy regulator, to wholly reject the wind project.” The article identifies several of the group’s directors but notes that, as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, it is able to conduct lobbying activities yet is not required to disclose its donors.
As of this month, Mr. Plummer, who during his tenure served as the offshore wind developer’s public face to residents as well as to the town board and town trustees (both of which would have to provide an easement or lease in order for the transmission cable to land on town-owned property), is the chief executive officer of Ravenswood Generating, according to his page on the business networking website LinkedIn. The company operates a 2,000-megawatt natural gas power plant in Queens.