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Deepwater holds hearing on planned wind farm off Rhode Island

Developers of the Long Island Power Authority's planned offshore wind farm offered the first glimpse on Thursday, March 9, 2017, of the project's proposed undersea cable route and connecting point in the Hamptons, drawing concern from fishermen who fear loss of fishing grounds. (Credit: Newsday / Raychel Brightman)

Developers of LIPA’s planned offshore wind farm gave the first glimpse Thursday of the project’s proposed undersea cable route and connecting point in the Hamptons, drawing concern from fishermen who fear loss of fishing grounds.

Deepwater Wind officials said a 50-mile cable from the turbine array off Rhode Island will make land at one of two proposed sites on town or state parkland on Napeague Bay. One site is at an abandoned fish processing site in Napeague State Park, the other at Fresh Pond Beach.

Deepwater chief executive Jeff Grybowski said the power cable will travel seven miles underground to a LIPA substation on Buell Lane in East Hampton village. Surveys of the routes will start in the spring as Deepwater gathers data to produce a final plan for the array to present to federal agencies in a year, he said, and water surveys are also beginning for cable routes and turbine placement. Grybowski said fishermen will be able to fish around turbines and he downplayed any impact from the cables.

About 75 people showed up for the meeting in East Hampton. Many in attendance were fishermen concerned about the loss of fishing grounds and navigational hazards because of turbine and cable placement.

“The cable runs right through the heart of where I fish,” said Montauk commercial fisherman Richard Jones.

Al Shaffer said his lobster fishing wouldn’t be impacted, adding that the cable’s placement would mean the end for trawling in Napeague Bay.

“This will close it down” he said.

Grybowski said trawl fishing, with heavy, bottom dragging nets, could happen around turbines that are expected to be about a mile apart but Montauk fisherman Dave Aripotch said he wouldn’t risk it. “You can’t drag through this,” he said.

And while the cable will be buried four to six feet, concrete mats will be used where burying isn’t possible, Grybowski said.

Environmentalists at the meeting were thrilled to see the project moving forward but expressed concern the Trump administration could slow it.

“We’re hoping the public interest and the jobs it creates will propel this to victory,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

LIPA expects the 15-turbine wind array to produce power by the end of 2022. Construction could start in 2019.

The project’s building price tag is about $740 million and will cost ratepayers more than $1.46 billion to buy energy over the 20-year contract. It promises to deliver 90 megawatts of clean energy from an array situated off the coast of Rhode Island, between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

LIPA approved the project to meet state clean-energy mandates and growing summer energy demand in the Hamptons. The project awaits approvals by the state Comptroller and Attorney General, and by various agencies of the Trump administration.

Deepwater Wind has been a familiar name around Long Island since it began proposing projects for LIPA at the start of the decade, winning support from legislators, environmentalists, business and labor groups.


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