The Long Island Power Authority approved the Deepwater Wind LLC, plan for the South Forks Wind Farm, a 90-megawatt development east of Montauk, N.Y.
State officials see it as the opener for developing over 10 times as much wind energy in that area — 1,000 MW in all. By 2030, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hopes New York could be using 2.4 gigawatts generated by turbines over the horizon — a prospect that the Long Island newspaper Newsday noted could encompass some 280 square miles of ocean.
After a year of negotiation, detailed cost modeling and some delays, LIPA trustees approved the contract Wednesday. Deepwater Wind, which is now operating the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, would send the South Fork power generated into the grid of Long Island’s East End.
"The South Fork Wind Farm will be the second offshore wind farm in America, and its largest," said Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski.
Part of LIPA’s plan for the region — famed as a summer getaway for New York City’s elite and traditional communities like the Montauk fishing port — includes better transmission enhancements, battery storage for power produced offshore, and conservation and reducing consumer electricity demand.
The contract includes a 20-year “pay-for-performance” power purchase agreement that allows LIPA to only pay for delivered energy without taking construction or operating risk, according to Cuomo’s office.
Deepwater’s Block Island venture continues to draw skeptics’ complaints over the cost of its power, heavily subsidized thanks to a supportive Rhode Island state government. New York officials say technology advancements are reducing the South Fork project’s pricing “to be competitive with other renewable energy sources.”
Early proposals for wind turbines off Long Island ran into resistance from the tourism industry and wealthy oceanfront communities — not unlike opposition that stymied the ill-fated Cape Wind project off Cape Cod. The South Fork array of 15 turbines would be located 30 miles east, well out of sight from land, a point stressed by Cuomo and other backers.
“By locating the offshore wind farm 30 miles offshore, it will be over the horizon and will not impact views from our beaches,” said Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone. “By installing energy storage facilities in Montauk and Wainscott, it will deliver reliable power without the noise and emissions that accompany conventional power plants.”
Fishermen say the South Fork project and New York’s bigger plans threaten their industry.
“Cox's Ledge, the apparently ‘new’ LIPA/Deepwater offshore windmill site, is renowned for its historical cod-fishing grounds by commercial, charter and recreational fishermen alike for the last century,” the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association said in response to the LIPA announcement.
To build turbine foundations, “Deepwater will be pile driving and jet plowing the ocean floor, then laying electric grid six feet deep that emits low level EMF (electromagnetic frequency)” from buried cables, the group says, repelling cod and attracting sharks.