The Governor of New York and the United States Secretary of the Interior launch the construction of South Fork Wind
Pictured above: Joe Nolan, CEO of Eversource, David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, Deb Haaland, US Secretary of the Interior, Kathy Hochul, Governor of New York, Marty Aracichsaid, Chairman of the Board of the Building and Construction Trades of Nassau Suffolk, and Julie Tighe, President of the New York League of Conservation Voters
As workers began digging the trench to bring the transmission cable from the South Fork wind farm to Wainscott on Friday morning, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, US Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and a slew of local elected officials and regional unions, union leaders and industry representatives gathered. on a soundstage at LTV Studios for a symbolic opening ceremony.
The South Fork Wind Farm, in the planning stages for seven years now, is a 12-turbine, 130-megawatt offshore wind farm set to be built 35 miles offshore from Montauk Point. It would be the first and smallest of many offshore wind farms planned to bring electricity to New York State. It received its final approvals from the Federal Office of Ocean Energy Management in mid-January.
As New York State set an ambitious goal of generating 70% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, East Hampton Town was at the forefront of this effort, setting in 2014 the ambitious goal to produce all electricity used within the city limits from renewable sources by 2030.
The South Fork wind farm is an important part of this effort – it will be connected to the power grid at an East Hampton Village substation and is designed to power around 70,000 homes.
“East Hampton is working to do its part to meet its renewable energy goals to fight climate change, but we can’t do it alone. It takes leadership and a strong commitment to the cause to take bold steps for meaningful change,” said East Hampton City Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc, introducing Governor Hochul during the ceremony on a soundstage. at LTV.
“This is the start of many other projects, to create many important jobs for people who need to transition into those jobs,” said Ms. Hochul, who added that two other offshore wind projects – Empire Wind and Beacon Wind – are underway. and are expected to come online in 2027 and 2028, respectively, bringing electricity to 1.3 million homes.
“But there’s nothing like being first,” she said. “It’s always more expensive to be first, but it’s a big investment. The state has invested significant sums to revive this industry in order to get us out of fossil fuels.
She added that state investment in the industry, in conjunction with unions, is expected to bring a significant number of skilled union jobs to New York, at a wind turbine manufacturing site in Albany, where the state plans to invest $500 million. , at a hub being built by offshore wind company Equinor at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and at the site of offshore wind farms being built. Equinor is building the Empire Wind project off Long Beach and Beacon Wind, in the same area as the South Fork wind farm. Ørsted also has another wind project underway in this region – the 924 megawatt Sunrise Wind Farm.
Ørsted Offshore North America, which is building the South Fork wind farm with New England electric transmission company Eversource, is also opening an operations and maintenance center in East Setauket, which will use the deep water port of Port Jefferson .
“I want to see more women in these jobs, and I know the unions want that too,” Ms. Hochul said.
“We make sure we have opportunities for people of all colors and communities” for these jobs, she added. This effort is consistent with the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, passed in June 2019.
US Secretary of the Interior Deb Halland, the first Native American to hold the post, began her remarks by acknowledging that the press conference was taking place on the ancestral lands of the Shinnecock Nation.
“We want to promote the development of a strong national supply chain and ensure that we create well-paying union jobs,” she said. “New York has long been a leader in promoting offshore wind, with the most ambitious offshore wind goals in the country. This helped create the excitement in the market that we have today.
Ms Haaland added that the Biden-Harris administration has set a goal of creating 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, which would be greatly aided by New York’s goal of creating 9 gigawatts of power. offshore wind turbine by 2035.
“These goals are ambitious, but they are absolutely necessary and we can achieve them,” she said. “The climate crisis demands immediate attention,” she added, stressing that the recently passed bipartisan infrastructure law will play an important role in creating a “cleaner future for our children, grandchildren and many generations to come”.
“This is a very emotional day for me. We are moving from seven years of working in powerpoints, Excel spreadsheets and lab reports to moving earth,” said the CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America , David Hardy, adding that in the mid-2000s his company was a fossil fuel company, which has since pivoted to bet on green energy.
“East Hampton also recognized its own need for transformation,” he said. “The future of green energy means jobs, with turbines built in the United States with American labor. New York can become an exporter of offshore wind to the rest of the world. Let’s build this wind farm.
Eversource Energy President and CEO Joe Nolan thanked New York for its hospitality to his Massachusetts-based energy company, increasing his Boston accent as he thanked attendees for their tolerance of Red Sox fans. He pointed out that the transmission cable is being installed, using union labor, by Long Island-based Haugland Energy Group, and promised “to source everything from sandwiches to breakfast lunch at the concrete, locally”.
Jennifer Garvey, New York market affairs manager at Ørsted, said there are many entry points for people interested in working in the offshore wind industry, including contacting unions on Long Island. Haugland Energy Group, which is installing the transmission cable, has labor agreements with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1049 and the International Union of Plant Engineers Local 138.
“The union is a great way forward,” Ms Garvey said, adding that there will be more jobs throughout the supply chain for turbine parts, as well as in licensing agencies and for scientists – all of whom are actively recruiting women. and people of color. This year, she said, Ørsted plans to directly hire 22 people, from engineers to operations and maintenance technicians, at its East Seatauket hub. Careers at Ørsted are published online at us.orsted.com.
Not everyone was thrilled with what was happening in Wainscott on Friday morning. Citizens for the Preservation of Wainscott issued the following statement in response to the Governor’s visit:
“We continue to support the shift to renewable energy and celebrate progress towards this goal. But we continue to have serious reservations about an infrastructure project that runs its cable through residential neighborhoods and next to a PFAS superfund site, especially when better alternative sites were available. Our goal will continue to be to protect our community.
East Hampton Airport, just north of the Four Mile Cable route, is one of many airport sites in the East End and across the country that has recently come under investigation due to the presence of the compounds PFOA and PFOS, which had historically been used in fire-fighting foam, in groundwater. East Hampton Town and the Suffolk County Water Authority teamed up in 2018 to bring public water to residents who had private wells at risk of plume contamination.
At the corner of Wainscott Northwest Road and Wainscott Stone Road, along the proposed cable route, someone had placed red and blue ribbons around the trunk of a large tree, with two handwritten signs leaning against its roots reading “Respect our trees.
Governor Hochul did not mince words in response to the criticism.
“It’s a short-term disruption, with the long-term benefit of getting rid of fossil fuels,” she said. “I understand the frustration, but ultimately they planned it in such a way as to limit disruption.”