An illustration of a wind installation vessel.

An illustration of a wind installation vessel. Credit: Maersk Supply Service

A division of the Federal Aviation Administration has launched a study of the Empire Wind offshore wind farm planned for 14 miles off the coast of Long Beach, noting that planned turbines exceed FAA obstruction standards by 453 feet.

Empire Wind, which called the review an “anticipated next step” in the project, has already received key state and federal approvals, and last week announced securing a contract with New York State.

In a May 28 letter, the FAA’s Obstruction Evaluation Group wrote to project developer Equinor to say it had begun an aeronautical study of the project. The letter noted the top of the turbines' blades will stand at 952 feet above sea level.

“At a height greater than 499 feet above ground level, the proposed wind farm would extend into airspace normally used for visual-flight-rule en-route flight and may be located within 2 statute miles of a potential visual-flight-rule route as defined by FAA order,” the notice states. The turbines within that 2-mile limit “would have an adverse effect upon visual flight rule air navigation.”

The letter is part of an FAA process for review of wind turbines and other structures that could impact certain flight routes, given their height and proximity to airports. Empire is around 18 miles from JFK International Airport. Of the more than a dozen federally sited offshore projects, at least one other, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, planned for New Jersey, received a similar letter on June 6, noting that it’s 1,047-foot planned structures exceeded the obstruction standard by 548 feet.

The Empire letter says further study is needed to determine whether the turbines “would affect a significant volume of … aircraft resulting in a substantial adverse effect on visual-flight-rule en-route traffic.” 

A spokesman for Equinor, David Schoetz, called the letter part of the FAA process that was begun “years ago,” and said the company had anticipated it. Turbines above the height standard in the FAA’s review area constitute a “very small percentage” of Empire Wind 1’s 54 turbines, and are in the northwest section of the proposed array.

“This is the anticipated next step in a FAA review that began several years ago,” Schoetz said in an email. “The maximum height of the Empire Wind 1 turbines has been consistent throughout the permitting process and we continue to work with aviation officials to ensure safety and compliance.”

Later Thursday evening, Schoetz said Equinor believes the FAA review applies to a single wind turbine. An FAA spokesman was not available to confirm that and did not respond to Newsday questions about the review and its potential implications on the project.

A spokeswoman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, which administers the approval process for offshore wind farms, declined to comment, as did New York State’s Energy Research and Development Authority, which issued the contract.

A Long Beach-based group that opposes the Empire Wind projects called the letter’s findings “very alarming.”

“I hope it’s not going to get rubber stamped,” said Marjorie Wiederhold Monahan of Protect Our Coast-Long Island, NY, who said the group intends to weigh in heavily during the FAA review process.  

NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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NewsdayTV's Elisa DiStefano and Newsday food writer Marie Elena Martinez take a look at the hottest places to dine on Long Island this summer.  Credit: Randee Daddona; Newsday / A.J. Singh

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