East Hampton Town officials say they may seek outside experts to review a proposed 15-turbine offshore wind farm 35 miles off Montauk for potential environmental impacts.
Denmark-based Orsted, formerly Deepwater Wind, is seeking state and federal approvals to build the 130-megawatt South Fork Wind Farm, which officials have said could power as many as 70,000 homes through the renewable source. East Hampton Town residents, particularly those in Wainscott where Orsted said it prefers to bury the wind farm’s power cable, have supported offshore wind energy but cite fears of the project’s impact on the beach and ocean.
East Hampton Town officials on Tuesday said they may seek proposals for independent experts to study potential impacts on land and near the shore. The issue likely will be brought up for consideration at the board's August meeting, they said.
“The town has been interested in following the review process to ensure any concerns town officials or residents have are properly addressed in the permitting process,” East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said during a town board work session Tuesday.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on Friday submitted a nine-page letter to the state Public Service Commission comparing the environmental concerns of burying the cable in Wainscott and an alternative site at Hither Hills State Park in Montauk.
The document also outlined unanswered questions about the project. Among the issues noted were the lack of a plan to ensure construction does not spread invasive species and the need for measures to prevent conflicts with fishing gear.
"Requests for additional information from state agencies are common and expected in the review of complex projects like the South Fork Wind Farm," Orsted spokeswoman Meaghan Wims said in an email. "Our permitting schedule remains on-schedule."
Wainscott resident Si Kinsella, who has raised concerns about the wind farm and sued the state to fully disclose the cost of the project, said it was important to have an independent expert review the application.
“I think it’s a very sensible move to bring on some experts,” he said, adding that the town should have taken the step when the project was announced in 2017. “Better late than never," Kinsella said.