The South Fork Wind Farm, proposed for a site approximately 35 miles due east of Montauk, will “very likely be delayed due to federal permitting approvals and Covid-19,” Henrik Poulsen, Orsted’s chief executive officer, said during a quarterly earnings call yesterday. Delay of the project, jointly proposed by Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy, means that a timeline that would make the 130-megawatt wind farm operational by late 2022 will not be met.
The delay represents a setback to East Hampton Town’s goal to derive its energy needs through renewable sources. The announcement comes two months after the federal government’s “Permitting Dashboards” website listed the environmental review and permitting status of the 15-turbine installation and its transmission cable, which would come ashore in the town, as “paused.”
It also follows last week’s announcement by Orsted, the Denmark-based parent company of Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, that its 120-megawatt Skipjack Wind project proposed to be constructed off Maryland had been delayed by one year.
The Skipjack and South Fork projects would be the first to be constructed in the United States by Orsted. Deepwater Wind, a Rhode Island company that was acquired by Orsted, constructed the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm, the country’s first offshore wind farm.
Last month, Orsted and Eversource scheduled, and then postponed, survey work for the wind farm’s transmission cable, which is to make landfall in Wainscott, due to the pandemic.
The delays in the South Fork Wind Farm have “impacted our ability to carry out key surveys both on and offshore,” Mr. Poulsen said. “We anticipate a formal update from the federal government on our permitting timeline, which will inform our project schedule.”
The South Fork Wind Farm has divided East Hampton Town residents. Proponents concerned about climate change have hailed the project as an important step toward a clean-energy future. Opponents include commercial fishermen, and others who have raised concerns about Orsted’s transparency with respect to electricity rates.