Pictured Above: Ørsted‘s graphic of the sea-to-shore transition of the South Fork Wind Farm cable.

Work on the onshore portion of the cable landing for the South Fork Wind Farm, a 12-turbine offshore wind farm 35 miles off of Montauk, is slated to begin in January of 2022, with the entire project expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2023.

Representatives of South Fork Wind, a joint venture of the Danish wind farm giant Ørsted and the New England electric transmission company Eversource, outlined the work plan at a virtual open house on Monday, Nov. 15.

Eversource Vice President for Offshore Wind Siting & Permiting Ken Bowes told attendees that the wind farm is expected to have its final permit approvals in January of 2022. For the first year after it receives permits, much of the work to be done will be involved with placing the onshore transmission cable, while components of the actual wind farm are manufactured elsewhere to be brought to the site and assembled in 2023.

Among the components being built offsite is an offshore substation, which is under construction in Texas. While it can be installed fairly quickly, Mr. Bowes said it should be installed after the onshore section is complete, to enable workers to test the equipment there using power from the onshore cable.

The onshore work is divided into three segments: sea-to-shore drilling from about 1,700 feet offshore to a duct bank 500 feet back from the beach at the end of Beach Lane in Wainscott; the laying of the cable along two miles of town roads and two miles of Long Island Rail Road rights-of-way; and readying a new substation adjacent to an existing LIPA substation on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton Village.

All three phases are slated to begin in the first quarter of 2022, said Mr. Bowes.

The horizontal sea-to-shore drilling is slated to drill about 85 feet underneath the beach and into the duct bank, which will be set northward of the parking lot to the beach, allowing full beach access throughout the project.

The work along town roadways is going to be done in two phases, with three months of work to be completed in the spring of 2022 and three more months of work to be done in the fall of 2022, with a moratorium on work between May and September during the busy summer season.

Ørsted‘s graphic of the burial process for the South Fork Wind Farm cable.

The work would consist of a 500-foot-long caravan working on a section of road about 100 feet long each day, with workers cutting a three-foot wide hole in the existing pavement, excavating that hole, placing in sections of conduit and splice vaults and then backfilling with a special concrete that has thermal properties. 

The two-mile stretch along town roads is the equivalent of 10,500 feet, and in all, 100 to 120 days of construction are expected, with work being done between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m.

Jennifer Garvey, the New York Market Affairs Manager for Ørsted, said some directional drilling at the beach site could take place outside of those hours “in very limited extenuating circumstances.

“We would have to provide notice,” she added. “This is a precautionary measure in the event we need it.”

Mr. Bowes estimated that one dump truck per hour of excavation debris would leave the site of the road work, with one truck per hour of paving material filling in behind. The work would be done within one lane of travel, and they aren’t expecting to close any roads.

The cable is being laid along five local roads, including Beach Lane, Wainscott Main Street, Sayre’s Path, Wainscott Stone Road and Wainscott Northwest Road, and will cross Montauk Highway on Wainscott Northwest Road adjacent to the Wainscott Post office, before traveling north to the Long Island Rail Road tracks.

Mr. Bowes said the entire stretch of roadway will be repaved the season after the work is complete. 

The work along the railroad right-of-way has no prohibition during the summer season.

While the electric lines on five utility poles at the end of Beach Lane will be rerouted underground, there is no plan at this time to reroute any other existing power lines underground, said Mr. Bowes, though he added that a portion of the $28.9 million in host community agreement funds South Fork Wind is paying East Hampton Town in exchange for use of the town roads could be used to route electric lines underground.

At five locations along the road, and another five along the railroad right-of-way, workers will be installing splice vaults, underground concrete vaults about the size of a storage container, where sections of the cable will be spliced together and racked up against the wall. This is necessary, said Mr. Bowes, because there’s a 2,500-foot maximum size of reels of transmission cable that can be transported to the site.

The vaults will be accessible for inspection and maintenance through manhole covers in the road.

South Fork Wind’s power purchase agreement with LIPA lasts for 20 years — that time frame could be extended, but the size of this particular project will not.

“We will not be able to increase the capacity in the future,” said Mr. Bowes. “We would have to start with an entirely new project.”

Indeed, the Ørsted/Eversource partnership is already at work on other projects, including Sunrise Wind, a 924-megawatt wind farm, with more than 100 turbines, adjacent to the South Fork Wind Farm. Sunrise Wind is also slated to power New York, with the cable likely to come ashore at Smith Point Park. In comparison, the South Fork Wind project is just 123 megawatts, and can provide power to about 70,000 homes.

“The power that feeds into the East Hampton substation, from there will flow both east and west,” said Mr. Bowes of South Fork Wind. “The entire South Fork will receive portions of this power. It may satisfy most of the needs or only a small portion, depending on the time of year. In the winter months, the majority of the power here will be coming from South Fork Wind.”

Ms. Garvey urged residents who may have landscaping or other amenities in the town right-of-way, which extends about 15 feet in from the edge of the pavement, contact South Fork Wind to work out any conflicts that might arise. She added that the wind farm will compensate private property owners if there is any damage to their property during construction.

“There definitely is going to be interference that we’ll have to work through, and we certainly want to talk with the customers,” she said. “If we need to do some relocations, we’re responsible for full restoration after the fact, but that may obviously create some angst for customers.”

For more information on how the route may affect your property, call 631.887.5470, email info@southforkwind.com or follow the project on Twitter at @southforkwind. South Fork Wind has also set up a virtual open house, available at southforkwindvirtual.com, with more details about the project.

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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