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Offshore wind energy may come to Long Island

By 2030, New York State aims be capable of producing 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind energy — and create nearly 5,000 related jobs — but questions about the Village of Greenport’s involvement, or lack thereof, have been raised by a former mayor.

The New York State Department of Energy Research and Development Authority completed an offshore wind energy master plan in January. It included 20 different studies, including a port facility and infrastructure assessment that examined 65 port facilities across the state that have the capability to either accommodate manufacturing or store components for an offshore wind project. The wind farm itself would be located in the Atlantic Ocean, which is considered federal waters.

“Offshore wind development is certainly a complex undertaking,” said Doreen Harris, director of large-scale renewables at NYSERDA. “I would say there are a lot different things to think about in order to ensure offshore wind is developed responsibly for New Yorkers, whether they be environmental, infrastructure needs or costs.”

The study looked at port facilities along New York Harbor, the Hudson River and the coast of Long Island, including Port Jefferson, Orient Point, Shoreham Inlet, Sag Harbor and Three Mile Harbor. 

Not on that list of possible port facilities, however, was Greenport. 

Former mayor David Kapell said he was surprised Greenport wasn’t considered as a potential site to service maintenance vessels.

“How it was excluded from [NYSERDA’s] list was something I just didn’t understand,” Mr. Kapell said. “It’s clearly the most important port on eastern Long Island, maybe even on all of Long Island.”

Mr. Kapell attended a public hearing in Southampton last Monday to voice his concerns to the state. 

In 1987, when he was a trustee, the Village of Greenport adopted the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan to ensure the village would remain a working waterfront.

“This is exactly the kind of use envisioned with the LWRP should the opportunity arise, and this is it,” Mr. Kapell said.

He also said that he’d like to see Greenport benefit from the jobs an offshore wind farm would create, adding that it might help with housing issues in the village, because if people have better jobs they will be able to afford housing in the area.

“If Greenport had a particular interest, probably in some aspects of operations and maintenance, it would be a good idea to sort of market that location as such,” Ms. Harris said.

Port facilities, and wind farms in general, could add up to 5,000 long-term jobs to the Long Island area if the investment is made.

“There is a real opportunity for Long Island,” Ms. Harris said. “We see a real value from the perspective of jobs and other investments on Long Island. We think a good number [of port facilities] have a real possibility of occurring on Long Island.”

The plan aims to power nearly 1.2 million homes across the state by 2030, according to the master plan. A project already underway, the South Fork Wind Farm, is set to generate 90 megawatts of renewable energy by 2022. 

Each area may serve as a different section of the supply chain for offshore energy, meaning some are better suited for ongoing operations and maintenance, others for staging or storing and still others for manufacturing. Ms. Harris said Orient Point, Three Mile Harbor and Sag Harbor locations are well suited for operations and maintenance. 

“The purpose of our study was to match facilities with private developers,” Ms. Harris said.

There are environmental factors to consider as well, but Group for the East End seems open to the idea of renewable energy. Group president Robert DeLuca said it is in favor of having the wind farms as far offshore as possible and beyond the horizon.

“For things like bird migration, the farther out to sea you are, the better off you are in respect to not interfering with migratory pathways,” he said.

Group for the East End will perform more in-depth studies in the future to study the effects of the actual construction of the wind turbines.

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Photo credit: The study looked at port facilities along New York Harbor, the Hudson River and the coast of Long Island, including Orient Point. (file photo)