Town beach on Beach Lane in Wainscott, likely site of...

Town beach on Beach Lane in Wainscott, likely site of a cable landing for the South Fork Wind Farm.  Credit: Newsday/Mark.Harrington

Developers of the South Fork Wind Farm have awarded their first and largest construction contract to date to Melville-based Haugland Energy Group for the project's land-based cable and interconnection infrastructure in East Hampton.

Construction of what is planned as New York's first offshore wind farm is expected to start by early next month, as developers Orsted and Eversource await a federal green light to begin work on LIPA-contracted project.

Haugland will employ more than 100 unionized workers in Suffolk County, and locally source everything from "breakfast sandwiches to concrete" during the work, Haugland president Billy Haugland told Newsday Thursday.

Haugland has previously done cable work for Orsted's Block Island Wind farm, the first offshore wind project in the nation.

"Our being able to leverage the labor pool and experience we have really allows us to mobilize" to complete the work quickly and safely, Haugland said.

"It's going to be a dialed-up effort. We have to do big quantities in a short amount of time and leave the area as if we weren't ever there … We have a long resume of doing these projects," Haugland said.

The $2 billion, 130-megawatt wind farm, consisting of up to 12 turbines located off the coast of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, is expected to begin producing energy in late 2023 — enough to power 70,000 homes, Orsted and Eversource say.

LIPA first approved the contract with the former Deepwater Wind in January 2017.

Haugland will train and employ unionized heavy-equipment operators, electricians, high-voltage line workers and delivery drivers from the region, officials said. Other local businesses will support the construction work.

The dollar value of the contract wasn't released.

Orsted Offshore North America chief executive David Hardy called the Haugland agreement a "critical first step" for both the South Fork project and the state in advancing New York's first wind project.

Haugland and Eversource external affairs director Julia Bovey said the safety of workers and communities around construction sites would be a top priority.

The 4.1-mile land-based cable will traverse local roads and a Long Island Rail Road right of way on its way to a new interconnection facility to be built next to a LIPA substation on Cove Hollow Road in East Hampton.

Construction will continue through the end of April, cease for the summer and resume in October until the work is finished.

"We're very familiar with working out on the East End with a summer moratorium," Haugland said.

The South Fork Wind Farm and its cable have been the subject of multiple lawsuits by a group of Wainscott residents who have opposed the route.

The group says developers should have considered other locations.

One of those residents, Si Kinsella, said, "one hundred temporary union jobs is not going to pay back even a small fraction of the $1 billion LIPA overpaid to an overseas and out-of-state company," for the project.

The state last year gave final approval to the Wainscott plan, which had multiple endorsements, including from East Hampton Town.

Jennifer Garvey, New York market affairs manager for Orsted, said the legal actions won't impede the planned construction schedule.

The South Fork Wind Farm initially was proposed as a 90-megawatt array of some 15 turbines.

LIPA agreed to up the output to 130 megawatts after Orsted bought out the original developer, Deepwater Wind.

Orsted and Eversource, using more powerful turbines that won't be visible from Long Island, were able to trim the project's profile to 12 turbines.

The project is expected to cost the average ratepayer across Long Island about $1.58 a month.

That’s atop the approximately $2.48 a month they’ll pay for a separate project PSEG is completing to fortify the South Fork grid to meet increased power loads with new transmission lines, improved substations and local wires.

That project had an estimated cost of $513 million.

Orsted also has plans for a larger project called Sunrise Wind that will make landfall at Smith Point on its way to a substation in Holtsville.

Orsted and Eversource previously announced plans to open an operations and maintenance center in Setauket, a service vessel operations center in Port Jefferson and to fund a $10 million training center at Suffolk County Community College.

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