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Holding Pattern for Wind Farm Power Cable

Thu, 03/16/2023 - 09:26

Northeaster keeps the interconnection offshore

A sound-attenuating wall surrounded a temporary installation at Beach Lane in Wainscott, where the South Fork Wind farm’s export cable will be pulled through previously installed conduit buried beneath the beach.
Durell Godfrey

The lift boat Ram and the vessel Living Stone were offshore. Divers were present, too, and near the Beach Lane terminus in Wainscott contractors mostly stayed behind the sound-attenuating wall surrounding a temporary installation.

But with the looming northeaster that brought abundant wind and rain this week, the sea-to-shore interconnection of the South Fork Wind farm’s onshore transmission cable with the submarine export cable that will link the wind farm with the electric grid would have to wait.

Behind the sound wall, installed last year to minimize noise disturbance on Beach Lane, on Friday a winch stood ready to pull the export cable through around 2,500 feet of previously installed conduit, buried 80 feet beneath the ocean beach via horizontal directional drilling. But despite the calm sea and sky, the Living Stone, bearing the high-voltage cable that it had collected from the Nexans plant in Charleston, S.C., remained on the horizon, far offshore.

Otherwise, all was quiet on a morning hinting of spring, the drilling equipment long since removed from the site. “The sound wall has stayed up just to keep the work space intact,” said Jennifer Garvey of Orsted, which with its partner Eversource Energy is developing New York State’s first offshore wind farm. At times, the section of road encircled by the sound wall has been “quite empty,” she said.

“We’re really just waiting for a weather window, because once we start the cable pull, it has to happen continuously over a 24-hour period,” Ms. Garvey said. “Once that window presents, the cable vessel will come up and they’ll begin to pull the cable through the conduit. The winch equipment pulls it through the conduit, and once it’s all through, we’ll splice it into the existing onshore duct bank that’s been in there since last spring. They’ll tie it together, close it all up, and we’ll be out of here.”

On Tuesday, Councilwoman Cate Rogers told her colleagues on the East Hampton Town Board that the cable pull “should begin” the following day, “weather permitting.” Given the day’s weather conditions, that seemed doubtful, Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc answered.

When it finally does happen, a 28-nautical-mile section of cable will then be laid on the ocean floor toward the site of the 12-turbine wind farm, approximately 35 miles off Montauk Point. A trench will then be plowed and the cable buried in it, Ms. Garvey said. During the approximate three-week window for that work, “we will have some guard vessels present” at regular intervals, she said, “just because there’ll be a short period of time where the cable’s unburied on the bottom. During that time, we’ll have vessels present to make sure that as people are approaching the area, they know. You can certainly transit over it, but you can’t have bottom gear going over it.”

A second 28-nautical-mile cable section to the wind farm area will also be laid, following the same process and timeline.

A new interconnection station off Cove Hollow Road is still under construction. “But otherwise, we’re close to finished,” Ms. Garvey said. “As soon as we finish the cable pull and do the splicing work, we’re demobilizing the site, the sound wall comes down, and we are finishing up our construction on town roads.”

The developers face an April 30 deadline to complete onshore activity.

 

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