South Fork Wind Farm moving ahead

Located 15 miles east of Block Island
Thu, 07/02/2020 - 5:45pm

Ørsted, the company that currently owns and operates the Block Island Wind Farm, is partnering with another company to bring two offshore wind projects that will be located about 15 miles east of Block Island.

The two projects are currently in the surveying phase, which is expected to conclude in December 2020 for both projects.

The wind farms, named South Fork and Sunrise Wind Farms, will be co-developed by Ørsted and Eversource, a New England-based utility.

According to Cam Stoker, Orsted’s communications manager for the Northeast, the South Fork Wind Farm is expected to be operational in 2022 and will have 15 wind turbines. As for the number of turbines in the Sunrise project, Stoker said that “has not been settled yet,” nor has a construction schedule been set.

Responding to a question from The Block Island Times regarding the location of the proposed turbines, Stoker said, “The South Fork Wind lease area and Sunrise Wind lease area are both in U.S. Federal Waters. South Fork Wind is located 35 miles east of Montauk Point while Sunrise Wind is located at least 30 miles east of Montauk Point.”

While doing research on the location of the proposed turbines, The Block Island Times found nautical charts that identified, in the general area where the wind farms are to be located, and where surveying is being done, several locations of unexploded ordinance, including torpedoes and bombs.

When asked if Ørsted and Eversource were aware of the unexploded ordinance, Stoker said, “Our upcoming offshore geophysical surveys in our lease area and potential transmission cable routes will examine the potential presence of any unexploded munitions, among a whole host of other features of the seafloor.”

Local sailor Henry duPont, who knows these waters well, said the unexploded ordinance is decades old and poses little or no danger. “These things are up and down the East Coast. It’s just a fact of life. Odds are water has gotten into the detonator, and it’s not unlikely they have rusted and the contents dispersed.” Even if still intact, the ordinance takes up such a tiny fraction of the ocean floor that the odds of running into one either when building the turbines or laying the cables would be infinitesimal, said duPont.

The South Fork Wind Farm will generate 132 megawatts of energy for Long Island.