The folks at Deepwater Wind (now Ørsted North America) have pledged to keep the long process of building and opening an offshore wind farm transparent, and from our vantage point, project leaders and information have been made available when requested.
Their project, the South Fork Wind Farm, has been controversial from the outset with townsfolk concerned that the landing port for the offshore cable would prove to be an annoying intrusion. Community members of Wainscott, where the cable was originally scheduled to land, united in opposition. That led Deepwater to announce a second site in Hither Hills would be considered, which also proved to have its share of naysayers.
This week, news filtered out that the company intended “to hold an important settlement conference in Albany relating to the location of the transmission line for the Deepwater Wind (Ørsted) offshore wind project to be constructed in the Town of East Hampton.”
What’s wrong with this picture? No one out here knew anything about the meeting, or Deepwater’s decision.
As we went to press, Assemblyman Fred Thiele, State Senator Ken LaValle, and East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc fired off a letter demanding the meeting be held here.
“Our concern is the fact that this very important meeting is occurring in Albany more than 250 miles from the community most affected by the proposed project. While this location may be convenient for the Public Service Commission and the attorneys and lobbyists for the applicant, it is a hardship for locally based parties to this proceeding who wish to personally attend this meeting,” the trio wrote.
Amen. Deepwater officials know when and if the PSC approves the project the opposition will pull out the big guns. It would seem prudent for Deepwater to announce what it has to say publicly in East Hampton and then allow PSC to gauge the local response before any settlement talk proceeds.
It is disappointing, to say the least, that after all of its efforts to conduct the proceedings in as transparent a manner as possible, company officials have opted a venue 250 miles away to reveal its decision, out of earshot of interested local parties. In the end, the resulting bad blood will likely harden the efforts of opponents to stop the wind farm altogether.