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Raised barge off Smith Point conducting survey work for wind farm cable

The Laredo Brazos lift boat, a self-elevating barge,

The Laredo Brazos lift boat, a self-elevating barge, conducts seafloor survey work off Smith Point Park on Tuesday.  The vessel is surveying for a proposed power cable landing site for the planned Sunrise Wind farm.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

A barge that has set down support pylons and raised itself off the water’s surface beyond Smith Point in recent days is a self-elevating vessel that is in the region to do sea floor survey work for a future cable landing site for Sunrise Wind.

The Sunrise Wind project, by developers Orsted and Eversource, is an 880-megawatt offshore wind farm expected to be built 35 miles from Montauk, off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The project, which is being developed under contract to New York State, is expected to be completed by 2024 or slightly later, depending upon federal, state and local approvals and environmental studies.

The self-elevating barge, which had been conducting similar surveys off the shore of Wainscott last month, is expected to be off Smith Point for two weeks before returning to Wainscott to finish work there, said Meaghan Wims, a spokeswoman for Sunrise Wind.

The vessel, which is elevated on three large steel poles, will collect four soil borings and measure the sea floor to help with planning for the power cable to come ashore at Smith Point once construction plans and other approvals advance.

Brookhaven Town has already expressed support for a plan to bring the Sunrise Wind cable up William Floyd Parkway to Horseblock Road and the Long Island Expressway before landing at a LIPA substation in Holtsville.

The landing site in Wainscott, proposed for a power cable from South Fork Wind Farm, another Orsted project planned for the waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has been the subject of considerable local opposition. Residents in and around the Beach Lane landing site have threatened to incorporate as a village to block it; they’ve also threatened litigation. The state plans to begin evidentiary hearings on the Wainscott site this week.

At Smith Point, the barge will take soil borings at 1,100 feet and 2,700 feet from shore, with work expected 24 hours per day until it’s finished. The company said "no significant noise" is expected to be heard from land, but some in the area have taken notice.

"Looks like an oil rig," William Roache of Center Moriches wrote Monday in a social media post. "Did anyone get a heads up about this?"

Sunrise held a virtual forum on its cable plan earlier this month.

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