Pictured Above: The end of Beach Lane in Wainscott, where the cable from the South Fork Wind Farm is slated to land.

New York State’s Public Service Commission voted to approve the transmission cable from the South Fork Wind Farm Thursday, March 18, along a route that comes ashore at Beach Lane in Wainscott.

The cable would then be placed in the roadbed along about 4.1 miles of town roads from the landing site to an electric substation on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton. East Hampton Town approved easements, along with $28.9 million in community benefits to be paid to the town by South Fork Wind, LLC, in January.

Environmental advocacy groups praised the Public Service Commission’s vote on March 18, while an organized group of Wainscott residents, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott, said they were disappointed and were pursuing their legal options. Members of Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott have already sued East Hampton Town over the easements, and were foiled in late February by the town in their attempt to form a village, when East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said their incorporation paperwork lacked legal sufficiency.

“We are disappointed with the decision of the Public Service Commission, but the East Hampton Town Board’s abandonment of the people of Wainscott made this phase a challenging process,” said Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott in a statement Thursday. “While other municipalities push developers to find non-residential landing sites, our Town Supervisor led his Board – without advice from independent experts – to insist that the landing site be located in Wainscott when better alternatives existed, including Hither Hills State Park.”

“Given that to date this route-selection process has been tainted and highly politicized by the positioning of the East Hampton Town Board, Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott has been left with no recourse other than to seek further administrative redress and then, if necessary, seeking redress by the courts,” they added.

South Fork Wind Farm Developers Ørsted and Eversource argue that, unlike the Hither Hills landing site, the Beach Lane landing site allows them to cross under Montauk Highway, avoiding traffic disruption, that the route avoids wetlands and stays within existing rights-of-way and minimizes disruption to homes, businesses and residents. The terrestrial portion of the Beach Lane route is also about 1/3 of the length of the Hither Hills route.

The Alliance for Clean Energy NY was quick to issue a statement Thursday supporting the Public Service Commission decision.

“As groups representing local civic, environmental advocacy, labor, and the business community, we collectively believe that the advancement of offshore wind projects, such as South Fork Wind, are among the most powerful tools to help New York transition to a cleaner, greener and more resilient clean energy economy,” they said. “The Public Service Commission’s approval today of the project’s cable landing is another milestone along the path to South Fork Wind becoming New York’s first offshore wind farm, and we applaud their thorough review and approval of this historic project.”

“When complete, South Fork Wind will provide enough clean energy to power more than 70,000 homes – reducing carbon emissions, creating green jobs, and helping the state meet its commitment to clean energy,” they added. “We have stood side-by-side and championed this project because its success is directly tied to the ability of New York to achieve its goals of combating climate change with 100% clean energy, including at least 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind, and because it will create good union jobs in our communities.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is charged with approving or denying the wind farm itself, which would be on a BOEM lease site in federal waters about 30 miles off of Montauk.

BOEM finished its draft environmental review of the South Fork Wind Farm earlier this year and held three public hearings on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project in mid-February. BOEM is currently drafting a Final Environmental Impact Statement for the project, and is expected, along with the US Army Corps of Engineers and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to issue a Record of Decision  on whether to approve or deny the wind farm’s Construction and Operations Plan within 30 days after the Final Environmental Impact Statement is complete.

Beth Young
Beth Young is an award-winning local journalist who has been covering the East End since the 1990s. She began her career at the Sag Harbor Express and, after receiving her Masters from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, has reported for the Southampton Press, the East Hampton Press and the Times/Review Media Group. She founded the East End Beacon website in 2013, and a print edition in 2017. Beth was born and raised on the North Fork. In her spare time, she 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

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