The New York League of Conservation Voters has launched an advertising campaign that paints the nascent offshore wind industry as integral to economic recovery in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
The commercial, which is appearing on CNN, MSNBC, and the Fox News channel in the Long Island area as well as on News12 and online, specifically refers to the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, a 15-turbine, 130-megawatt installation that has been rebranded South Fork Wind and would be situated approximately 35 miles off Montauk.
"New Yorkers know the road to recovery may be long and difficult," begins a voiceover in the one-minute advertisement. "But as we start to rebuild, the path to a stronger, safer, and healthier New York in part depends on clean energy. Projects like South Fork Wind can help us reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, spur much-needed economic development, and lead us to a clean energy future."
"With the ability to power 70,000 homes on Long Island and create good paying local jobs that will fuel our economic recovery, South Fork Wind is an essential piece of the largest commitment to offshore wind development in the country," the voiceover continues. The advertisement concludes by encouraging viewers to sign a pledge to support renewable energy.
Julie Tighe, the league's president, echoed the message in an email to supporters on Tuesday. Referring to the state's goal of deriving 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, including a 9,000-megawatt commitment to offshore wind, she wrote that "as the state reopens, offshore wind will be a critical part of our renewable energy portfolio that will help us transition to a clean energy economy and create family-sustaining green jobs. But this won't happen unless wind farms get built, and in order to get built, they need wide support."
The advertisement was the topic of an article on the political-news website Politico last week. "The South Fork project faces some decision points in the coming months," Politico reported, "including action by the town board where a key transmission line would run and progress on the siting of that transmission line overseen by the Public Service Commission."
The East Hampton Town Board, which would have to grant an easement in order for the transmission cable to land on town property, recently voted to authorize South Fork Wind's developers, Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind and Eversource Energy, to conduct a test boring at the southern end of Beach Lane in Wainscott, which the developers have identified as their preferred site to land the transmission cable, to determine whether subsurface conditions are suitable. From there the cable would run underground to the Long Island Power Authority substation in East Hampton.
The plan has drawn strong opposition from many residents of Wainscott, who have organized to prevent the Beach Lane landfall. Instead, they advocate a landing on state-owned land at Hither Hills in Montauk. Other local groups, including Win With Wind and Montauk United, favor the Wainscott landing site.
The project itself, while hailed by proponents concerned about climate change, is fiercely opposed by commercial fishermen, who fear a threat to their livelihoods posed by wind turbines situated amid fertile fishing grounds and thousands of turbines dotting the coast from New England to the Mid-Atlantic states.
Henrik Poulsen, the chief executive officer of Orsted, the Danish parent company of Orsted U.S. Offshore Wind, said in April that the South Fork Wind project would "very likely be delayed due to federal permitting approvals and Covid-19." The delay represents a setback to East Hampton Town's goal to derive 100 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources.