New Deepwater Wind project

Will be 16.5 miles from Block Island
Fri, 03/17/2017 - 1:15pm

A newly licensed 15-turbine wind farm project that will power Montauk, Long Island, is starting to undergo the same scrutiny from Long Island residents that the Block Island Wind Farm did just a few years ago.

Deepwater Wind unveiled some aspects of the South Fork Wind Farm at a meeting on Long Island that was recently reported in the Long Island press. Long Island fishermen, and some out of Point Judith, had concerns about the location of the proposed wind farm, while also criticizing the location of the Block Island Wind Farm turbines and its mainland cable. Some fishermen said the Block Island Wind Farm was an obstruction, and that the mainland cable was causing issues with some fishing vessels.

An article published in a Long Island paper also quotes a fisherman who stated that some fishing vessels had gotten “hung up on concrete mats that cover the cable bringing the power ashore to Block Island.” The Block Island Times reached out to Deepwater Wind to ask if this was so.

Elizabeth Marchetti, the fisheries liaison from the Coastal Resources Management Council, and Bryan Wilson, the Block Island Wind Farm’s Project Manager, said that if any boats had gotten hung up on the mats they each would have been notified. Marchetti said her office has received no information about any boats hitting those mats. The mats cover a portion of the 20-mile cable that connects Block Island to the mainland grid.

“Deepwater would have reports of that, we would know,” said Wilson.

In an email, Marchetti said, “I have not heard of any reports from any fishermen regarding cable conflicts.”

Some of the Long Island fishermen were also concerned that charts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had not been updated to show the location of the five Block Island wind turbines. Wilson said NOAA’s electronic charts were updated, in accordance with the U.S. Coast Guard, in 2015. Older, paper charts might not be updated, Wilson said.

The central issue of the meeting Deepwater Wind had with Long Island residents was about the South Fork Wind Farm project. That project calls for 15 turbines (six megawatts each) that will be located about 16.5 miles from the southeast coast of Block Island, and about 30 miles from the coast of Montauk.

When asked if Deepwater Wind would be reaching out to Block Island’s fishing community about the location of those 15 turbines, Wilson said he expected there will be many meetings scheduled on the topic, some of which will be held on Block Island.

“There has been public outreach in the past and in the future there will be,” he said. Wilson also wanted to dispel the rumor that fishing vessels were not allowed near or through the Block Island Wind Farm. 

“There are fishing boats that traverse the turbines all the time, commercial and recreational,” he said. “To my mind [the wind farm] doesn’t represent a barrier.”

The South Fork Wind Farm is expected to start construction in 2019 and be completed by 2022.