By Madeline Armstrong
The public comment period is open for review of Sunrise Wind’s proposed wind farm in the coastal waters off New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management released a notice of availability on Dec. 16 last year, meaning members of the public can now submit comments to BOEM on whether they support the project or not.
The project would require nine wind turbine generators at 102 potential locations, an offshore converter station, inter-array cables, an onshore converter station, an offshore transmission cable making landfall on Long Island and an onshore interconnection cable to the Long Island Power Authority’s substation in Holbrook.
“The proposed wind farm would be located roughly 30 miles east of Montauk, about 16 miles southeast of Block Island, R.I., and about 18.9 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.,” said Paige Foley, the BOEM environmental coordinator for the Sunrise Wind project. “The project has an estimated operational life of 25 to 35 years.”
Laura McClain, an ocean and lakes policy analyst for the New York State Department of State’s Coastal Management Program, said the project would be a step forward toward meeting New York’s renewable energy goals.
New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act proposes a goal of generating 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030 and 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.
“Storing clean, renewable energy and delivering it where and when it is needed is one of the most critical challenges we must overcome to reduce statewide emissions, especially from traditional fossil fuel peaker plants,” said Gov. Kathy Hochul in an announcement on Dec. 28 while laying out a roadmap to accomplish these goals. “This roadmap will serve as a model for other states to follow by maximizing the use of renewable energy while enabling a reliable and resilient transformation of the power grid.”
“Offshore wind is critical to meet New York’s and the country’s renewable energy goals, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and rebuild around a green energy economy,” said Casey Petrashek, representing the nonprofit New York League of Conservation Voters. “This project will create enough clean energy to operate approximately 600,000 homes, eliminating the generating of 50 million tons of [carbon dioxide] over the project’s lifetime.”
The wind farm would also create a number of economic benefits, officials say, including 800 direct jobs, 1,200 indirect jobs and a direct investment of more than $400 million in the state.
“Sunrise Wind offers tremendous opportunities to Long Island, New York State and the entire United States as a way to transition into clean energy by meeting New York’s ambitious goal, creating good-paying and unions jobs, providing opportunities to businesses operating in traditionally underserved communities and will further solidify a domestic offshore wind opportunity,” said Stacey Sikes, vice president of government affairs and and communications at the Long Island Association, a business group.
Nicole Dipaolo, representing the Blue Green Alliance, a national organization that unites labor unions and environmental organizations, said the planned project would address both the environmental and economic crises simultaneously.
“In the United States, we face the dual crises of climate change and increasing economic inequality, and for far too long we’ve allowed the forces driving both crises to create a wedge between the need for economic security and a livable environment,” Dipaolo said.
While many support Sunrise Wind’s proposed wind farms, there are those with concerns.
Meghan Lapp, representing Seafreeze Ltd., an East Coast first harvesting company, said she worries about the cod population in southern New England, where one of the wind farms would be located. The proposed wind farm would use an open-water system to cool equipment. However, according to Lapp, this type of cooling system is illegal in New York waters.
“An open water cooling system will suck in the water where the cod larvae and the cod eggs are and it will cook them and spit them out dead. This is going to have very significant impacts on the cod population in southern New England,” Lapp said. “We do not support having any open water cooling stations allowed on any substations in this project.”
Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, is concerned that some of the preparatory work needed to install the wind turbines and substations would also be detrimental to the cod population.
“There is a severe concern that not only by doing the initial work, which [involves] bulldozing the ocean floor, destroying possibly centuries of glacial marine [environment], pile-driving the larvae and keeping the spawning cod out of the area, [we] could lose one of the last somewhat healthy stocks of codfish that we have in New England,” Brady said.
The public comment period will remain open until Feb. 14, with a final decision due by October. The open hearings are closed, but those who wish to submit a comment can do so at https://www.regulations.gov/.