David Hardy, right, CEO Americas for Orsted North America, on Tuesday shows...

David Hardy, right, CEO Americas for Orsted North America, on Tuesday shows members of the editorial board a photo of the first American substation for a wind turbine being dropped on to a platform off the coast of Montauk, right. Credit: Amanda Fiscina-Wells, South Fork Wind

Daily Point

Orsted wind turbine projects find favorable political weather

On Tuesday the first-ever American-made substation for a wind turbine was dropped onto a platform 35 miles off Montauk, the same day representatives from the company building the renewable energy project dropped by Melville to visit the editorial board.

David Hardy, CEO Americas for Orsted North America, took out his smartphone to show us pictures of a massive crane dropping the pre-assembled substation on top of a monopile foundation 30 feet above the water. Connected to it will be 12 turbines of what Hardy predicts will be the first off shore-wind project functioning in federal waters. Energy from the South Fork project is under contract to LIPA for 30 years and will power 75,000 homes on the eastern end of Long Island.

But after that, things get dicey. Orsted, which is planning a bigger LI project known as Sunrise Wind that would feed power into LI's grid further west and coming ashore at Smith Point park, and Equinor, which won a bid for a project off Long Beach, are asking the Public Service Commission to raise their rate per megawatt. That would make renewable energy more expensive for utility customers if there is no increase in state and federal subsidies. Hardy said increased financing costs because of inflation and supply-side constraints are jacking up the cost of materials and labor, making the construction of massive turbine fields and the infrastructure to bring the power onshore untenable under the current pricing terms.

Rhode Island Energy walked away from a project with Orsted last week saying the demands of the energy giants would make the price too expensive for consumers. Can that happen in New York? “NYSERDA is pretty sophisticated,” said Hardy about the state’s energy agency. “New York is thinking about the long game,” he said. He pointed out the long-term economic benefits for the state as well as the need to meet its green energy goals.

“Orsted will deploy $5 billion euros in the U.S. for the green energy transition by 2030,” said Hardy but he acknowledged that New York and other Northeast states will have to absorb a lot of the development costs of the nascent industry.

While there are upcoming battles in Albany over money, closer to home there are battles with host communities. Jennifer Garvey, head of Orsted’s New York market strategy, praised Brookhaven and East Hampton for getting the onshore permitting done expeditiously. “Our projects have benefited from bipartisan support,” she said.

Noting the political pitfalls befalling Equinor in Long Beach, we asked whether such opposition would be a problem going forward. Hardy said not only does Orsted look at the ecological and engineering challenges of connecting the power to the transmission grid, it now factors in the politics of these locations. “Today we look at it,” he said.

— Rita Ciolli rita.ciolli@newsday.com

Pencil Point

Warming up

Credit: Columbia Missourian/John Darkow

For more cartoons, visit www.newsday.com/nationalcartoons

Final Point

Talking Barbie back in the '90s

Credit: Matt Davies

Barbie, the Mattel doll that has long been a cultural touchstone and lightning rod for controversy, has now become a cinema juggernaut with her eponymous movie generating a record-breaking opening weekend of $162 million in domestic box office receipts.

Everyone, it seems, is talking Barbie.

At one time, so did Newsday’s editorial board. The year was 1992 and the board weighed in three times on two creations by Mattel – a preemie baby doll and a talking Barbie. The board was a fan of neither.

After wondering whether Mattel’s preemie doll was an attempt to “cash in” on a serious real-world issue – “the bad prenatal care, drug addiction and poor nutrition that lead to low-birth-weight babies” – the board slammed what it called the company’s “Pollyanna” message: “Each one’s so tiny – brand new and cute.”

In an editorial on April 18, 1992, titled “Collector’s Item?”, the board wrote, “Real low-birth-weight babies are anything but cute.” This was a major problem during the era’s crack epidemic, and the board noted, “The ones lucky enough to survive spend their early days hooked up to IV tubes in a pediatric ICU. One in five dies in infancy. Telling little girls it’s ‘exciting’ to have a 3-pound baby sends a terrible message about childbearing and child rearing. What’s next? Bulimic Barbie?”

Rather than a diversification of the Barbie line, the board termed the invention “the latest indicator of consumerism-gone-wild.”

Later that year, Newsday’s board left no doubt about its take on Teen Talk Barbie in an Oct. 3, 1992, piece titled “Oh Shut Up, Barbie.”

Each doll uttered four of a possible 270 phrases, which Newsday’s board said impairs a doll’s job “to spark imaginative play.” But it was particularly incensed at one of them – “Math class is tough” – which it said would “reinforce the myth that arithmetic is a struggle for girls, a stereotype that experts believe seriously stunts girls’ math-achievement levels.”

In “Profits for Barbie,” the board noted in a Christmas Eve piece that Teen Talk Barbie had become a “lesson in economics.” A campaign by educators to get Mattel to stop offering Barbies that speak the math-hating line had turned the doll into a sought-after commodity that holiday season, worth as much as $150 to collectors.

“But how to find her?” the board wrote. “A buyer can’t tell what Barbie will say until paying for her and inserting batteries. Helpful Mattel has figured the chance of finding one at 1.5 percent. Lucky kids who get the mathaphobic Barbie can sell her to a collector, buy another and pocket the difference. Almost makes a kid want to master math. Who said Barbie was dumb?”

Ten years later, Newsday cartoonist Matt Davies – then at The Journal News in Westchester County, drew a cartoon noting the death of Barbie creator Ruth Handler. It featured a lineup of unimpressed women with a variety of body types quite different than Barbie’s prototypical hourglass figure.

Thirty-one years after those Newsday editorials, Barbie is neither dumb nor unidimensional. Mattel’s website lists 553 different Barbies in 35 skin tones, 97 hair styles, nine body types, some physical disabilities, and a slew of occupations – including scientist, doctor, marine biologist, pediatrician, paramedic, veterinarian, dentist, and astronaut.

And even president of the United States – channeling a plot line in the movie but not reality. Yet.

— Michael Dobie michael.dobie@newsday.com, Amanda Fiscina-Wells amanda.fiscina-wells@newsday.com


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