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Jun 5, 2018 2:42 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Thiele Would Support East Hampton Town Approval Of Deepwater Easements

Two of the five turbines built by Deepwater Wind that are already in operation off Block Island. MICHAEL WRIGHT
Jun 5, 2018 3:20 PM

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr. on Monday encouraged the East Hampton Town Board and Town Trustees to grant access easements under the ocean beach in Wainscott and under town roads, linking an underground transmission cable bringing electricity from a proposed 90-megawatt, 15-turbine offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean to the power grid in East Hampton.

The endeavor, which would be funded, built and operated by Deepwater Wind, will need approval from a number of federal and state agencies even if East Hampton Town officials vote to approve the easements. The Long Island Power Authority has signed an agreement to purchase power that the wind farm would produce.

At the same time, Mr. Thiele is calling for LIPA to make third-party agreements, like the one made with Deepwater, transparent to the public. He also called for an independent entity, such as Cornell Cooperative Extension, to ensure the integrity and independence of regulatory reform for the commercial industry, for which Deepwater Wind has agreed to provide $2 million as part of a community benefits package it has proposed.

There are other possible wind farm projects on the horizon. Massachusetts and Rhode Island last week announced additional wind projects that would deliver a combined 1,200 megawatts of energy off the coast of Block Island, including by Deepwater. New York and the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management also have mapped out two different plans to expand leasing opportunities for offshore wind developers off the south shore of Long Island.

Mr. Thiele described the federal government’s more expansive map for consideration off the coast of the South Fork as “a threat to the scenic vistas and open spaces that East Enders have spent more than a billion dollars to protect.”

“While I support the development of offshore wind as part of a responsible energy policy, my support should not be construed as a rubber-stamp for every offshore wind project that is proposed,” the assemblyman said in a release. “We must look at the merits of each individual project to ensure it meets the goals of our energy policy, and that the project avoids unacceptable adverse environmental impacts. The public is right to demand the strictest review of this project.

“Unlike many energy companies, Deepwater Wind has demonstrated a willingness to work with the community as part of the review process,” Mr. Thiele added.

Deepwater has worked with East Hampton officials and residents during numerous town meetings and public hearings to address concerns, including the potential disruption offshore wind farms will have on the commercial fishing industry and marine ecosystem. The project will be subject to federal and state review.

“It is imperative that local government, local officials, and the public continue to participate in these federal and state reviews to insure that all issues are addressed,” Mr. Thiele said.

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