As it was expected to do, the East Hampton Town Board voted last Thursday to authorize an agreement with Orsted and Eversource Energy, partners in the proposed South Fork Wind Farm to be constructed approximately 35 miles east of Montauk, allowing the developers to conduct survey work for the 15-turbine installation’s transmission cable route in Wainscott.
The companies have identified a subterranean path from a cable landing at the ocean beach at the end of Beach Lane to a Long Island Power Authority substation in East Hampton as the preferred route. The surveys will include six borings within the town-owned roadway on Beach Lane, the parking lot at the end of Beach Lane, Wainscott Stone Road, and Wainscott Northwest Road.
Shovel test pit surveys along the sides of Beach Lane, Wainscott’s Main Street, Sayre’s Path, Wainscott Stone Road, Wainscott Northwest Road, Daniel’s Hole Road, Stephen Hand’s Path, and Buckskill Road will also be conducted. The hand-dug pits, approximately 18 inches in diameter and to a depth of up to four feet at approximately 100-foot intervals, are to help determine whether potential archaeological materials are present along the proposed cable route.
They are to be backfilled after the surveys. The effort should be completed within 14 days, an Orsted spokesman said in January.
Work is to proceed between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. in the shoulder areas of the aforementioned roads. All work is to be completed by April 30, unless the board extends that time frame through the adoption of another resolution.
The license agreement includes a $50,000 fee assessed to Orsted and Eversource.
The New York State Public Service Commission is reviewing the proposed wind farm pursuant to Article VII of the Public Service Law, as well as federal review by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
The developers had made the same authorization request one year ago but did not proceed despite the town board’s 3-to-2 vote to approve the work. The renewed request indicates that the developers are moving forward with the controversial plan to land the wind farm’s export cable in Wainscott.
Last Thursday’s vote was 4 to 1 in favor. Councilman Jeff Bragman, who voted against the resolution last year, continued to assert that approving it was tantamount to “selecting the route that the applicant prefers.”
But Councilman David Lys changed his position from last year to vote in favor of the resolution. He said that he remains wary of the project as a whole, but felt that the survey work would prove informative. “We might find,” he said, “that this specific site is not conducive to the [horizontal directional drilling] for the export cable,” referring to the technique by which Orsted and Eversource would bury the wind farm’s export cable at the landfall site, starting around 1,500 feet offshore.
No one spoke for or against the agreement at the public hearing that preceded the vote.
“We applaud the East Hampton Town Board for taking this critical next step,” Win With Wind, a group that was formed to advocate for the wind farm, said in a statement following the vote. “The South Fork Wind Farm is an essential part of East Hampton achieving its renewable energy goals and reducing our dependency on fossil fuels. It is too late to stop climate change, but we can slow it down. By reducing our use of fossil fuels we reduce the amount of CO2 spewed into the atmosphere thus reducing the effects — air pollution, warmer air and water temperatures, rising sea levels, and ocean acidification.”