A Hopeful Day for Offshore Wind Advocates

Activists rallied outside LIPA headquarters Tuesday morning.
Activists rallied outside LIPA headquarters Tuesday morning.

More than 100 advocates for offshore wind, comprised of environmental and labor groups and politicians, rallied outside of Long Island Power Authority headquarters in Uniondale Tuesday morning urging the agency to sign a contract to purchase power from offshore wind.

LIPA CEO Thomas Falcone, who sat with several model wind turbines on the table in front of him, told activists who packed LIPA’s board room for the agency’s monthly board of directors meeting after the rally that he expected to have a big announcement about offshore wind in the new year.

His comments were followed by an eruption of applause from the crowd.

The Rhode Island offshore wind developer Deepwater Wind turned on the switch last week on the first offshore wind project in the country off of Block Island, but the company’s proposed Deepwater ONE project in the waters 30 miles off of Montauk, which could to provide power to the East End, is still awaiting a bid award decision from LIPA.

Mr. Falcone told reporters this past summer that the Deepwater ONE project would be approved in July of this year, but the vote was postponed at the last minute because LIPA was awaiting the publication of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s blueprint for the state’s Offshore Wind Master Plan, which was completed in early fall.

In June, Mr. Falcone told the Associated Press that “this is the first in New York, it’s the largest to date, but we’re looking at this and seeing a tremendous offshore wind resource that will be developed and it’s not the last… I think this is a very big step … for New York, but also for the United States.”

Organizers of the rally ranged from the Sierra Club to Renewable Energy Long Island to the Long Island Federation of Labor, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, ironworkers, painters and other labor groups, 350.org and Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

They included a bus full of offshore wind advocates from Manhattan, who marched from the bus to beside the front door of LIPA headquarters, singing Bob Dylan’s “The Answer is Blowing in the Wind,” holding model wind turbines made of poster board high in the air.

They began a series of pro-wind chants, before deciding on the chant they liked the best, simply: “We Want Wind.”

In addition to the Deepwater Wind project, Norwegian multinational oil and gas company Statoil late last week was the provisional winner of the U.S. government’s wind lease sale of 79,350 acres of federal waters in the New York Bight off the South Shore.

Statoil submitted a winning bid of $42.5 million during the online auction conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Long Island Commercial Fishing Association Executive Director Bonnie Brady of Montauk was the one person in attendance at the LIPA meeting Tuesday who expressed skepticism about offshore wind, where the board took about half an hour of public comment.

Ms. Brady said the construction of the wind farm would involve pile driving the ocean floor, killing fish with swim bladders, while low-level electromagnetic frequencies at the site, which currently is part of an active cod fishery, would attract sharks.

She described the project as a “nuclear winter” for fish.

“The reality is, this is not a clean project,” she said, adding that there is a glut of power on Long Island, but the LIPA grid is broken.

“Truly green projects don’t destroy the environment to save the environment,” she said. “If we fix the grid, we’ll have enough power on the East End until 2030.”

Ms. Brady urged the board to encourage more solar projects, instead of wind.

East Hampton Town Energy Sustainability Committee member Linda James read a letter in support of the project from East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell.

“This is an important step toward securing East Hampton’s future,” she read. “Climate change is a priority for East Hampton. We’re working hard to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Coastal communities like ours are on the front lines.”

East Hampton set a goal in 2014 of producing all of town government’s power through renewable sources by 2020 and of producing all of the town’s energy through renewable sources by 2030. The plan relies heavily on offshore wind to meet those goals.

Renewable Energy Long Island Executive Director Gordian Raacke pointed out that the LIPA headquarters is in the middle of a complex at Roosevelt Field that had once been the proving grounds for the early days of the aviation industry, with streets named for Charles Lindbergh and Earl Ovington.

Mr. Raacke pointed out that Lindbergh’s first trans-Atlantic flight, which took off from Roosevelt Field, “made history and started an industry,” and urged LIPA to do the same with offshore wind.

While the LIPA board had no vote scheduled Tuesday on the request for proposals to provide power that Deepwater Wind has bid on, Citizens Campaign for the Environment Executive Director Adrienne Esposito said she was heartened to hear that LIPA has scheduled a special meeting the last week in January.

“We are excessively hopeful that it will be on the agenda at that meeting,” she said.

Ms. Esposito, who described the rally as “the largest rally for offshore wind in the history of New York State,” said the proposal is a unifying issue, providing skilled work for Long Island tradespeople and hope for the future of the planet.

She also said the project has bipartisan support. Two South Shore state senators, Republican Phil Boyle and Democrat Tom Kaminsky, both supported the project at the rally and in comments at the LIPA board meeting.

Mr. Kaminsky said that, if the new administration in Washington refuses to support clean energy, “New York has to stand up and take the lead.”

Long Island Federation of Labor Executive Director Roger Clayman said that members of the labor movement “are fully engaged and understand the significance of the clean energy movement.”

He added that Long Island workers, many of whom suffered the damage of Superstorm Sandy, “are on the front lines of climate change.”

Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades President Richard O’Kane said “to live on Long Island, we need jobs, and we have a memorandum of understanding with Deepwater Wind to do these jobs.”

“Fifty-eight thousand people in Europe are doing these jobs,” he added. “We can do this bigger and better here.”

Lisa Dix of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign said the Sierra Club is pushing New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to formalize “a commitment to an offshore wind program at scale” in his State of the State address in 2017.

Catherine Bowes of the National Wildlife Federation, said her agency understands that “climate change is the greatest threat to wildlife.”

“There’s no greater place to build than off of New York,” she said. “We’ve got world-class wind.”

Beth Young

Beth Young has been covering the East End since the 1990s. In her spare time, she runs around the block, tinkers with bicycles, tries not to drown in the Peconic Bay and hopes to grow the perfect tomato. You can send her a message at editor@eastendbeacon.com

4 thoughts on “A Hopeful Day for Offshore Wind Advocates

  • December 21, 2016 at 10:17 am
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    Great report, thank you. Ms Brady is only concerned about her job and a small limitation of the commercial fishing industry’s fishing grounds and baseless fear of a decrease in their catch. She is intellectually dishonest since Long Island’s grid is a fossil fuel grid. She should rather consider oil industry’s impact on fisheries from oil platforms, oil spills, increasing ocean temperatures, acidification of the ocean, degradation of biodiversity and increasing severity of ocean storms due to increasing ocean temperatures. “Positive impacts from offshore wind energy are foreseen with the ban of fishing, especially demersal trawling, in the wind farm area resulting in more local fish. The increase of biomass in benthos communities as a result of the construction of new foundations would support this supposition (Greenpeace, 2005).” Europe already installed, 3,344 offshore wind turbines with 11,538 MW of electricity connected to the grid. Her fear mongering is a moot point.

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  • December 21, 2016 at 6:25 pm
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    In response Frank. It must be nice to get all your facts from ENGO talking points. How about doing a little research of your own. What Greenpeace didn’t say was that the wind farms in Europe destroyed the nephrop fishery (a type of shrimp) because of silting of the bottom, you might also learn that the low frequency vibrations kill squid and this area is a spawning ground for squid.
    You might also find out that BOEM decided to ignore all comments buy commercial fishermen who gave detailed catch, area fished and fish dealer weigh out and price derived from this area.
    BOEM also decided to ignore data provided about the effects on radar that the windmills create, and considering we have 4 large airports in the area and one of the busiest ports on the east coast that should be a major concern. The World Council on Shipping is opposed this project because of vast amount of marine traffic. BOEM ignored the Coast Guard’s concerns about risk of collision because of the proximity to the shipping lanes.
    BOEM also ignored NOAA concerns about habitat destruction and effects on fisheries. All of this was brought up by fishermen.
    Contrary to what you believe fishermen do care about the environment and the health of fish stocks we make our living from the ocean. Maybe instead of trashing someone for not agreeing with you, you should spend a few winter months offshore on her husband’s boat.

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  • December 22, 2016 at 1:54 pm
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    “Intellectual dishonesty”, is rolling out the false dilemma argument that it’s either offshore wind energy or suffer the consequences of dirty fossil fuel energy generation. That argument has about as much connection to reality as the oil industry’s false dilemma pitch that drilling along our coast will create thousands of jobs and is necessary to achieve energy independence so we won’t be held hostage by oil-producing rival countries —and oh yes, when the rigs are decommissioned they will create fishing- beneficial artificial reefs as well as saving us from OPEC. Also, quoting Greenpeace about the “positive impacts” of banning fishing is not exactly a convincing claim to intellectual honesty or scientific objectivity.

    The proposed windmill sites are not “… a small limitation of the commercial fishing industries fishing grounds” the proposed sites happen to cover most every significant Loligo Squid spawning grounds south of Long Island between New York Harbor and east to Nantucket. And the “…fear of a decrease” in the squid catch is far from “baseless”. Fish are extremely sensitive to miniscule electromagnetic pulses and fields. Fish find food, communicate, and navigate through the reception of the naturally occurring electromagnetic signals in the ocean. The effect of hundreds of millions watts emanating from each turbine and carried through feed lines to trunk lines in a filigree of electrical charge will create havoc. http://seagrant.gso.uri.edu/oceansamp/pdf/presentation/present_gill_europe.pdf

    This is a very highly regulated fishery, successfully managed and prolific. Most of the 22,445 metric tons of biologically sanctioned Longfin Squid (Calamari) harvested by east coast independent family fishing operations come out of these areas which are slated for over 1400 wind turbine installations. That is not a “small limitation” of the fishing grounds that is a complete destruction of these vital spawning areas and a destruction of local industry and a vital source of clean healthy food. https://www.greateratlantic.fisheries.noaa.gov/nr/2016/April/16msb2016specsphl.pdf
    Wind as a source of energy is intermittent especially in an ocean environment noted for its extremes and turbulent variable wind patterns. http://www.udel.edu/udaily/2016/august/power-offshore-wind/

    So unless an efficient way to store hundreds of millions of watts is forthcoming, conventional oil/gas/coal fired power plants will not be able to be taken off line. After spending over a trillion dollars on wind Germany is terminating their program because the wind installations hiked the cost of electricity some 400% and it seems the everyday people were subsidizing the “green energy” costs for those who didn’t financially feel the increase. http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-offshore-wind-industry-goes-from-boom-to-bust-a-914158.html

    We all want to get out from under the oppression of the fossil fuel barons and enjoy “National Energy Independence and Security” and a low “carbon footprint”, but not at the cost of National Food Independence and Security by destroying some of the world’s richest fishing grounds in the process. The Northeast fisheries are a well-managed source of abundant and vital fish protein. Please learn something about them and then please leave them alone, THEY ARE NOT EXPENDABLE!

    Solar, geo-thermal, land installation wind, and algae-based biodiesel are reliable and available options to fossil fuel generated electrical energy. And, at the risk of e-blasphemy, we might even consider another solution, REDUCED ELECTRICAL ENERGY CONSUMPTION: or maybe your e-gizmos’ and e-vehicles’ fuel isn’t so economical and green after all.

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  • December 23, 2016 at 12:59 pm
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    I find it amazing that NY officials and wind advocates still continue to use the terms “this is the first in New York” and “there’s no better place to build wind than off NY”, yet NOT ONE WIND PROJECT OF THE NY WIND MASTER PLAN IS IN NY STATE WATERS. The Deepwater ONE project is off the coast of MA and RI, and will hurt local MA and RI fishing vessels and businesses far more than NY residents. The wind project sited in between the shipping lanes, under litigation for various reasons, is in federal waters utilized by fishing vessels from many states, as well as international shipping vessels. IF NY IS SO EAGER TO HAVE WIND POWER, WHY DOESN’T IT SITE ANY OF ITS PROJECTS IN ITS OWN STATE WATERS RATHER THAN ON AREAS USED BY PEOPLE FROM OTHER STATES? If the residents of NY do not want to view wind turbines the height of the Verrazano Narrows bridge right out their own front door, why should they have the right to site these massive projects on top of valuable, historic fishing grounds and areas necessary to the life cycles of ecologically important species? Why should other state economies and national natural resources suffer because NY wants to have major industrial offshore wind construction on top of invaluable habitat found in federal waters? We should never trade the sustainability of one natural resource for another. Rather than address its own excessive energy consumption, NY is proposing to permanently destroy site specific habitat of species like squid (calamari) and sea scallops and other species, which do not spread out evenly throughout the ocean but are concentrated in areas chosen by NY to build massive structures. Despite ecological concerns raised by fishery personnel, project proponents continue to forge ahead, without considering the impacts or other potential sites. There is a reason that towns and cities from RI, MA and NJ are signatories to a lawsuit regarding the “NY” wind area in federal waters. Between the two sites NY has chosen- not in its own state waters- it is proposing to essentially pile drive and pave 177,000 acres of unique habitat. Why not, as Ms. Brady suggests, investigate renewable energy in the form of solar panels that could be placed on the roof of every NY business/shopping mall/strip mall/etc, where construction and environmental degradation has already occurred, rather than destroying more? Offshore wind is not environmentally friendly. The costs can quadruple electric bills, the inefficient turbines require massive government subsidies to turn a “profit”, and offshore wind turbines do not last long in oceanic environmental conditions. Germany, the world leader in offshore wind, will stop building offshore wind by 2019 and start turning away from its offshore wind plan; and although the German government has spent $1.1 trillion financially supporting wind power, it still hasn’t achieved its goal of actually reducing CO2 emissions. http://dailycaller.com/2016/04/08/germany-to-abandon-1-1-trillion-wind-power-program-by-2019/. But I don’t see any of this being discussed by LIPA or other NY entities.

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