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Village considers proposal to lease dock space for offshore wind project

04/29/2019 6:00 AM |

Former Greenport Village mayor David Kapell, a member of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, said Long Island is at the dawn of a new industrial era associated with offshore wind development.

With that in mind, Mr. Kapell and contractor Jim Miller of Miller Marine Services in Port Jefferson went before the Village Board at the April 18 work session requesting approval to rent and lease parts of the village commercial dock from around May 1 until December, with possible renewals.

The next step is for Miller Marine Services to formally submit a bid to the Village. Mayor George Hubbard Jr. said at Thursday’s board meeting, where the proposal was discussed again, that no written contract has yet been finalized with the group.

If the corporation wins the contract and enters into negotiations with the Village, the contract would provide up to 300 feet of dockage space at the Village Railroad Dock with certain parameters.

That contract, the mayor said, would be circulated between the board and the public before its signed.

In January 2019, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that the state aims to be capable of producing 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035. To further advance offshore wind, Gov. Cuomo’s Green New Deal includes investing $200 million in state port infrastructure, establishing a state Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development and investing in an offshore wind training center. It also aims to facilitate development of an offshore wind transmission grid.

Mr. Kapell helped enact the village’s Local Waterfront Redevelopment Plan in 1987 to ensure it would remain a working waterfront. Last year, he backed the Long Island Association’s push to include Greenport Harbor in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s list of eligible Long Island ports that support the state’s Offshore Wind Master Plan. In May 2018, he attended a public hearing in Southampton to voice his opinions.

Roughly 21 wind projects have been approved from South Carolina to Massachusetts, Mr. Miller said in an interview last Tuesday. About four of them are located 30 miles east of Montauk, within a close radius of one another.

Miller Marine Services would work as a subcontractor to international ocean research group Fugro Geophysical, which would conduct oceanographic surveying tied to the development of offshore wind farms planned for Atlantic waters east of Long Island. The research would create a “three-dimensional blueprint” utilized to construct the wind farms, Mr. Miller said. Miller Marine Services would provide Fugro Geophysical with roughly 145-foot vessels, he said.

According to Mr. Miller, Greenport’s deepwater harbor and the availability of suitable dock space are conveniently located near the wind farm projects where Fugro Geophysical will be working.

The dock would be used for the purpose of vessel replenishment. This would involve provisioning, crew changes, weather standby, repairs, equipment change and possibly fuel and water delivery.

“Offshore wind is becoming an increasingly important economic opportunity,” Mr. Kapell said, “for New York State, for Long Island, for the entire region.”

Mr. Hubbard expressed his full support for the project after it was proposed to the board.

“I think this opens up a new future, possibly, to Greenport,” he said.

Board member Mary Bess Phillips, who sits on the NYSERDA’s fishing technical committee, said she supports use of dock space because it could benefit the village, but criticized Gov. Cuomo’s push for more wind power, which she believes will impact the commercial fishing industry on the East Coast.

“It will shut down the commercial fishing fleet on the East Coast that deals with squid fishing and scalloping, because these wind turbines cannot work between them,” she said. “In other words, Gov. Cuomo, with his energy … is pushing a food resource out of work.”

But it’s more than that, she said in an interview Monday: Wind projects would not only impact commercial fishing boats out of Montauk, Shinnecock and Freeport, but will also affect all the charter boats that go in and out of New Jersey ports.

Ms. Phillips cites a financial problem, too: Wind turbines at Block Island have increased electrical costs for homeowners in the area, and she fears the same may happen in Greenport.

Miller Marine Services has subcontracted rented dock space in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Mass., and Block Island, R.I., for similar services.

The potential contract with the Village mandates no more than four boats are docked at one time and all docked vessels must be under an American flag and fueling services may be permitted with certain restrictions.

Conservation Advisory Council member John Saladino said Thursday he’s concerned the current resolution makes no mention of an emergency spill response plan.

“Even in the local marinas, they have some sort of provision for spill response,” he said. “If the Village decides to allow fueling on that dock, even on limited basis, I’d suggest that that be provided.”

Ms. Phillips said most tow companies carry some type of oil spill cover to resolve an immediate spill. The boats in the marina are required to carry water pollution insurance, which covers the village. Fuel companies are required to provide the village with liability and water pollution coverage as well.

Mr. Miller, who attended Thursday’s meeting, agreed with Ms. Phillips and said a written spill response plan is mandated by the village if the project moves forward.

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