Wind farm wiring work begins in Wainscott

On Thursday, contractors in Ørsted began digging the trenches that will eventually hide the South Fork Wind power cable under the roads in Wainscott – the same day a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by residents who had contested the agreements with East Hampton Town to authorize the works.

On Thursday, work began on the first stretch of what will be 2 miles of trenches, interspersed with bus-sized underground “vaults”, meandering south from the Long Island Rail Road level crossing on Wainscott Northwest Road , where work began on Thursday, to Beach. Way.

The company’s work program says crews expect to extend the ‘saw-cut’ of the pavement surface layer along the entire route the trench will follow, up to Beach Lane, over the course of the coming week.

Clearing of a large new timber section at the LIPA substation in Cove Hollow, where new substation equipment will be constructed to accommodate the new influx of electricity for distribution to the power grid, is also underway,

Work crews began excavation Thursday just as a state judge’s order was issued dismissing a lawsuit filed by a group of residents, Citizens for Wainscott Preservation, which had challenged East Hampton City Council’s 2020 decision to grant a lease to Ørsted, the Danish energy company, and its New England-based development partner Eversource.

The Citizens’ Group, a group of residents who live primarily along the route the cable will follow, had sued claiming the rental agreement failed to comply with the Quality Review Act. environment and was an “arbitrary and capricious” step to take because the city had granted the lease before the entire project had been approved by state and federal regulators.

The group also has an ongoing lawsuit against the New York State Public Service Commission, which is reviewing utility installation work, challenging that agency’s approval of the cable installation work plan. .

“It is clear from the record that a thorough environmental review was undertaken and that the granting of the easement was subject to PSC approval,” Judge Martorana wrote. “The petitioners have failed to establish that the decision to grant the easement was made without regard to the facts or without a reasonable basis.”

A spokesperson for the group said it would not appeal the decision but planned to continue lobbying to overturn state approvals that would allow the cable to be installed. The group had applied for a temporary restraining order to halt the start of construction until the case went to trial – a process that could take months or even years – but was denied by the court.

“This was a process-oriented matter, so no,” there will be no appeal, spokesman Michael McKeon said. “We continue to pursue our litigation which focuses on significant issues related to the route of the selected cable and are confident that a fair hearing of the facts will validate our position.”

During the review process, the group had mounted an expensive campaign to make a case that bringing the cable ashore in Hither Hills State Park in Montauk or Atlantic Beach in Amagansett would be less disruptive to residents and less impact on the environment. State PSC engineers disagreed, calling the alternatives offered by consultants hired by the group unrealistic.

The wind farm project, which is expected to be the first offshore wind farm to send electricity to New York State, received final approvals from the federal Office of Ocean Energy Management, BOEM, last month. .

The company’s construction forecast calls for excavation work to continue until shortly before Memorial Day weekend, when it will be paused for the summer season, and resume in the fall. Current work will be conducted on weekdays only.

Next winter, cable installation work will shift to the cable conduit bore below Beach Lane beach and the ocean floor over 1,500 feet from shore, where it will meet the cable laid the along the seabed. This work should sometimes go on 24 hours a day.

Earlier this month, New York Governor Kathy Hochul and US Department of the Interior Secretary attended a groundbreaking ceremony for the $2 billion project in Wainscott, hailing the project as the first stage of what is about to become, in just a few years, a gigantic industry. of offshore wind development with probably thousands of wind turbines, each over 600 feet tall, pushing out into the ocean between Martha’s Vineyard and the Carolinas.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management opened a call for tenders on Wednesday for leases from wind farm developers for several new areas of the ocean floor off the New Jersey coast. Bids have already topped $3 billion, with bidding set to continue on Friday.

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