Despite steadfast support from the East Hampton Town Board, the South Fork Wind Farm has engendered no small amount of controversy hereabouts.
Fishermen worry that underwater cables, which are supposed to be buried along the ocean floor, will become exposed and pose hazards to the nets they drag along the bottom.
On shore, residents of Wainscott, where first Deepwater Wind and now its successor, Ørsted, want to land the cable at Beach Lane, have raised their own concerns about the upheaval caused by the need to tunnel all the way to the LIPA substation on Cove Hollow Road, where it would be connected to the grid. They also ask whether the cable, which is to be buried under the beach, might become exposed as sands shift over time.
As an alternative, Ørsted has offered to bring the cable ashore on state land in Hither Hills, but that would require disrupting traffic for months as it is laid under Route 27 to the substation.
All these are important concerns that could have easily been debated for the entire two hours, divided over two sessions, that the state Public Service Commission allotted to a hearing in East Hampton last week on the proposed cable landing sites.
But in order for that to happen, the PSC would have had to give preference to experts, or even committed citizens, who might have been able to shed some meaningful light on these topics.
Because the PSC apparently uses a first-come, first-served approach, at which speakers were chosen in the order they signed up, much time was wasted. Instead of hearing informed testimony, the commission and those who may have shown up to learn something were instead treated to something of a pro-wind farm filibuster put on by young college-age kids, who were apparently bused out to East Hampton by the Sierra Club and other environmental groups.
Don’t get us wrong. Their commitment to the environment and willingness to volunteer their time is to be lauded; we just don’t believe that it was necessary to listen to speaker after speaker say the equivalent of “Save the Earth. Yay wind power.”