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East Hampton trustees seek funding to offset wind farm cable

Shown is a turbine off Block Island operated

Shown is a turbine off Block Island operated by Deepwater Wind, the developer of a proposed South Fork wind farm. Credit: Deepwater Wind

The East Hampton Town Trustees have asked the developer behind a proposed South Fork wind farm for a slew of community benefits in exchange for allowing a power cable to make landfall at a Wainscott beach.

The nine-member board, which is separate from the town board and oversees publicly owned land, is seeking funds to address fishery enhancements, water quality and environmental improvement efforts and other measures. It has not specified an amount it deems as appropriate.

Deepwater has already offered the trustees $600,000 to fund studies, but the board has said that is not enough to offset the risks to the marine ecosystem.

“The Trustees are offering what we feel is a more complete list of a community benefits package,” Trustee Clerk Francis Bock wrote to Deepwater’s vice president of development, Clint Plummer, in a Feb. 12 letter.

The beach does not have a formal name but is at the end of Beach Lane.

Deepwater Wind is preparing federal and state permit applications for its proposed 15-turbine wind farm about 30 miles east of Montauk. The company also operates what is now the country’s only offshore wind plant, the five-turbine Block Island Wind Farm that came online in December 2016.

Plummer said Deepwater will consider the trustee’s request.

“We are doing a deep dive to determine what is involved with each one of these,” he said of the requests. “They are setting a very high bar.”

The state may be able to overrule the town should it deny access to the cable landing.

Deepwater officials have maintained the project will be minimally invasive and provide jobs.

Representatives from Deepwater and the trade organization American Wind Energy Association held a webinar on Wednesday featuring testimonials from Block Island charter fishermen and footage of an artificial reef that has sprouted up near the base of the Rhode Island turbines.

Still, the East Hampton trustees are requesting the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management study the impact of electromagnetic waves on migratory fish like striped bass, bluefish and weakfish.

Gary Cobb, an advocate for local nearshore fishermen, said the project should not move forward without more data, regardless of community benefits.

“In other words, they’re selling us out,” he said of the trustees.

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