Block Island Wind Farm.

Block Island Wind Farm. Credit: Deepwater Wind

The South Fork offshore wind farm will “very likely” be delayed beyond its planned 2022 completion date, according to a top official for project developer Orsted, who cited a “prolonged” federal review of U.S. wind projects and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Denmark-based Orsted’s U.S. offshore wind projects were still advancing, said chief executive Henrik Poulsen in comments with the release of Orsted’s first quarter financial report, but at a “slower pace” than planned. He cited the South Fork wind farm as one of two projects that were the “most exposed to the risk of delays.”

A second project by Orsted known as the Skipjack wind farm off the coast of Maryland also will likely be delayed by about a year from its originally 2022 completion date, Poulsen said.

There are also “increased risks of delay” for another New York project known as Sunrise Wind, intended to connect to the Long Island grid in 2024, Poulsen said, as well two other East Coast projects. Sunrise Wind, awarded by New York State with a capacity of some 880 megawatts, has been hampered by an inability to complete offshore site surveys by vessels because of COVID-19 restrictions, Poulsen said. The company expects to have “more clarity” on whether the projects will meet 2023-24 completion dates “after summer,” Poulsen said.

The South Fork wind farm, a planned 15-turbine project for the Long Island Power Authority to be constructed off the coast of Massachusetts-Rhode Island, was awarded to Deepwater Wind in 2017, with a scheduled completion date for the end of 2022.

The originally 90-megawatt project, with a projected cost to ratepayers of some $1.62 billion over 20 years, was expanded to 130 megawatts after Orsted bought Deepwater in 2018, with an additional $388 million cost. LIPA has said average customers will pay around $1.58 cents a month to pay for the energy.

The project is listed as “paused” on a federal review website, even after Orsted earlier this year filed an updated construction and operation plan for the facility.

Orsted and other East Coast wind farm developers have been awaiting a federal review of the “cumulative” impacts of offshore wind by the federal Bureau of Energy Management to determine how it may affect commercial fishing and shipping industries.

When Newsday first reported on the prospect of delays for the South Fork wind farm in February, LIPA said it would evaluate "operational alternatives" to that power until the wind farm comes online, including temporary power generators or accelerating grid upgrades already underway for the South Fork. 

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