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Hamptons town leaders object to new offshore wind farm plans

Supervisor Larry Cantwell is shown in this file

Supervisor Larry Cantwell is shown in this file photo taken on Jan. 5, 2016. Photo Credit: Randee Daddona

Two East End town officials who have expressed support for a wind farm 30 miles from the coast of Montauk to power the South Fork say a separate proposal for a wind farm 12 miles off the South Fork would meet resistance if the state pursues it.

Newsday on Sunday reported that LIPA and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority have identified six potential wind energy areas for New York, including one that would stretch across the length of the Hamptons.

LIPA and NYSERDA have both identified the area on maps, including one that accompanied a LIPA presentation for Newsday about a separate Deepwater Wind proposal 30 miles away.

The Deepwater proposal, in a Rhode Island wind-energy area, was to be voted on by LIPA trustees last week, until NYSERDA requested that LIPA cancel the meeting to complete a draft offshore wind energy blueprint in coming weeks.

NYSERDA last week noted that the South Shore wind area was identified on the map only for “analysis purposes,” and it would have to undergo many layers of scrutiny and approval before moving forward.

Still, East Hampton Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell said he has already contacted state officials after being made aware of the potential site in Newsday. “I reached out to the state to express our concerns,” he said.

Among those concerns, he said, is the potential for 450-foot turbines to mar pristine ocean views, even if they’re 12 miles from the town’s waterfront.

“I am sensitive to the aesthetics of visible wind farms off our shore because the beaches in our community are such an important asset,” he said. “Anything that might distract from those, I would have a concern with.”

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said he was unaware of the state and LIPA maps but expressed similar concerns.

“I’m not against wind power, but they have to do it in a way that doesn’t have visual impacts to a really important scenic resource,” he said. “Nobody minds seeing a beautiful sailboat in the water, but I’m not sure about wind farms.”

Schneiderman said the likelihood that homeowners along the coast, among the nation’s wealthiest, would object was “100 percent.”

“I would think there would be tremendous opposition to that, and well-funded,” he said.

The answer is simple, Schneiderman said. “They have to put them farther away. It’s not a big deal . . . They have to go beyond the visible horizon, otherwise they’re going to get a lot of resistance.”

A NYSERDA spokeswoman said, “No decisions on offshore wind development areas will be made without extensive input from local communities, the commercial fishing and maritime industries, environmental advocates and other key stakeholders.”

The state may not propose wind farms on all areas on the map, NYSERDA said, and may consider other areas entirely. Geographic boundaries also could change, the state said, adding that no town officials have as yet contacted NYSERDA.

A LIPA spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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