These turbines are part of a Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm...

These turbines are part of a Deepwater Wind offshore wind farm near Block Island. Credit: Newsday /Mark Harrington

Wind-energy company Orsted and its research partners on Monday will begin deploying special equipment in the waters off Smith Point to monitor fish movements as part of an effort to determine whether undersea offshore wind cables will have any impact on aquatic-life behavior.

The so-called pop-up monitors, with underwater buoys tethered well below the water's surface to 150-pound moorings, will be placed in water between 26 and 50 feet deep. The arrays will stay within state waters along the projected path of the power cable from Sunrise Wind, an offshore wind array to be constructed off the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Orsted, a Danish energy company, is working on the project with partner Eversource, with completion expected in the next several years. 

Helping lead the work to place the monitors are researchers from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences and the Cornell Cooperative Extension.

Orsted said it has spent months visiting with commercial fishermen across Long Island and at other Northeast ports to tell them of the planned deployment and to take input on the placement of the monitors.

Bradley Peterson, associate professor at Stony Brook, and Matthew Sclafani of the cooperative extension said the work will provide important information about fish behavior before, during and after the cables are in place beneath the seabed.

Officials said the arrays offer a refined approach to a project in the waters off Wainscott last year in that the newer receivers can be easily accessed and removed from the water when the work is finished, with smaller anchors than the previously used 500-pound devices.

In accommodating fishermen's requests, researchers say they reduced the number of monitors from 56 to 32 and eliminated an entire section of arrays in deeper, federal waters. They said the research will still provide important insights into species such as horseshoe crabs and bottom fish around the cables, including whether they change their behaviors around electromagnetic fields.

It’ll take around four days to install the monitors, starting Monday, and they’ll provide data for the research through 2027, before, during and after the cable is installed, officials said.

In other offshore wind news:

  • National Grid and RWE Renewables are working with the Rotary Club of Huntington and the Cornell Cooperative Extension to restore oyster habitats in waterways around Long Island. One of the first projects will introduce millions of oyster larvae into spawner sanctuaries at Gold Star Battalion Beach in Huntington.
  • Will Hazelip, a senior vice president of National Grid Ventures, said the company’s involvement in the Community Offshore Wind project in the New York Bight will allow it to extend the life of its Long Island power stations because of their ability to connect large amounts of energy to the grid. The company’s Northport and Island Park plants have such interconnectivity potential, as LIPA begins to phase out old fossil fuel plants. Hazelip said the company also could install battery storage units at the power stations and is looking for ways to incorporate green hydrogen into future plants to help power the grid when the wind isn’t blowing. He said the company also foresees workforce development for the facilities, including retraining existing plant workers.
  • Rise Light & Power, a company that owns the Ravenswood power plant that provides more than 20% of New York City’s power capacity, last week introduced a multipronged plan to convert the unit to mostly renewables by 2030. It plans to be a hub for offshore-wind connectivity to the grid, while connecting upstate renewables to the downstate grid. It also plans to host battery storage units and use the old plant’s water intake capacity to provide zero-emission thermal energy solutions to local homes and businesses. Clint Plummer, chief executive of Rise and a former executive of Deepwater Wind, said the vision for the conversion of Ravenswood was the South Fork Wind project selected by LIPA to help power the East End with clean energy.
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