A self-elevating barge off Smith Point, as seen from Moriches...

A self-elevating barge off Smith Point, as seen from Moriches Inlet, conducted sea-floor survey work for the Sunrise Wind farm on Nov. 29, 2020. Credit: Mark Harrington

One of the largest offshore wind farms planned for Long Island received another important approval from the federal government Tuesday, while its developer gave the formal OK to move ahead with investing in the multibillion-dollar project.

The federal government approval of a “record of decision” for Sunrise Wind is among the last the 84-turbine project needs before construction can begin, as early as next year. Sunrise Wind developer Orsted, of Denmark, said it expects the federal government to approve the final permit — its construction and operation plan — this summer, with completion expected in 2026. Orsted recently completed the 12-turbine South Fork Wind Farm earlier this month.

Both are in the waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with a power cable running more than 100 miles to Smith Point County Park before it begins a 17.5-mile journey through Brookhaven to a substation in Holtsville. 

The record of decision announced Tuesday indicates the 924-megawatt project will operate with fewer turbines than originally planned, which Orsted says will power some 600,000 homes. A federal release on the decision Tuesday said it would power more than 320,000 homes.

Most of the project’s power will enter the Long Island grid at Holtsville, and will be among the green-energy projects slated to replace fossil-fuel-powered natural gas plants over the next 25 years. Most Long Island power plants have contracts expiring in the next four years.

While the plant promises some $169 million in tax benefits for Brookhaven Town and other local districts, a $200 million land-based cable construction contract for Melville-based Haugland Group, and millions in research and training. New York State, which controls public messaging around the project, has yet to say specifically how much the project will increase customer rates.

When the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority announced its awarding Sunrise a new contract for energy, it would only say that Sunrise and another project, Empire Wind, slated for 12 miles off Long Beach, would together increase monthly bills by $2.09. Orsted spokeswoman Meaghan Wims declined to discuss the ratepayer impact. 

Neither NYSERDA nor Orsted would say what the final cost to build Sunrise Wind was, with Orsted calling it proprietary. Newsday has reported Sunrise, before its new pending contract, had an all-in cost of around $4.2 billion.

In addition to the federal record of decision Tuesday, Orsted itself said it approved a final investment decision for the project, even as it has taken hundreds of millions in impairment charges on the project already, and its partner, Eversource, has announced a plan to divest its ownership stake in the project.

The record of decision includes a statement that “major adverse impacts” from Sunrise Wind are expected for commercial and for-hire recreational fisheries, because of “the presence of structures, navigational hazards, space-use conflicts, new cable placement and pile driving noise."

It says the impacts “would be mitigated” by a requirement that Sunrise establish a “direct compensation” program to fishermen impacted by it, but thus far those compensation programs (excluding gear loss compensation) are available only to Massachusetts and Rhode Island fishermen, Newsday has reported.

Phone scam warning … SCPD property auction … Winter sports photo shoot Credit: Newsday

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Phone scam warning … SCPD property auction … Winter sports photo shoot Credit: Newsday

Woman, 28, shot in Mastic home ... Phone scam warning ... Misleading COVID test sites ... FeedMe: Korean BBQ

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