Pictured Above: Wind turbines for Ørsted and Eversource’s South Fork Wind are being prepared in New London, Conn. this week to be installed 30 miles off of Montauk. The companies’ larger Sunrise Wind projects, expected to be adjacent to South Fork Wind, were among four projects contracted by NYSERDA that had asked the Public Service Commission for inflation adjustments. | photo courtesy Ørsted
To the Editor:
We East Enders are keenly attuned to Nature’s cycles. I have long been anxiously observing our world as it moves ever closer to the boiling point, noting the growing impacts of climate chaos on our daily lives. This past summer’s orange skies were terrifyingly otherworldly. Atlantic hurricanes are not just stronger, but getting stronger faster and less predictably. This year, we have (so far) dodged the bullet. But what will happen next year or the year after that? My house insurance premium has soared and my broker said the cause was anticipated increased risk from hurricanes. And the policy only covers up to Category 2 hurricane damage; any damages above that fall entirely on me.
On a positive note, we’re lucky to be hosting the South Fork Wind Farm, now finally being built after such a long and useless fight over the cable landing. Clean, renewable wind power is critical to moving away from climate-heating dirty energy, like methane gas (AKA “natural” gas), propane and oil — a shift we must make as fast as possible if we are to survive as a coastal community.
So it was with dismay that I learned the Public Service Commission has just denied inflation adjustments for four much larger offshore wind projects, effectively derailing them from meeting our energy needs. Have you stopped buying food because of inflation? I didn’t think so. Well, we need clean energy to survive just like we need food to survive.
The PSC claimed the decision was necessary to keep down ratepayers’ costs. But the PSC’s decision was a win for gas companies, because it went on to grant gas rate hikes throughout the state. So much for keeping down ratepayers’ costs! Are gas company profits more important than protecting our communities and our environment?
It doesn’t even make economic sense. The PSC decision will make the clean energy transition more expensive, not less. According to the state’s climate law mandate, New York must contract for nine gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. The PSC’s decision now requires 4.1 gigawatts of wind already in the development process to be rebid. Those projects will necessarily be more expensive and will certainly include inflation adjustments. We’ll also be waiting longer to close New York’s dirty gas plants and curb climate-heating emissions. That will only accelerate the heavy costs we’ll be hit with as climate chaos ramps up.
This can be laid largely at the feet of Governor Hochul. While she claims concern about climate change, saying (rightly) that it’s a crisis, her actual commitment to the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act seems to be fraying. It is up to her to get offshore wind development back on track. Governor Hochul promises to accelerate and expedite new wind farms. But allowing her PSC to send offshore wind into a tailspin is going in the opposite direction — straight into maelstrom of climate breakdown.
We need to tell the Governor that our lives, homes and communities matter more than the profits of the dirty energy companies who threaten them. She was elected to protect us; it’s time for her to do her job.
Francesca Rheannon is co-chair of the Climate Reality Project-Long Island Chapter and a member of the East Hampton Energy and Sustainability Advisory Committee.
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