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Developers started construction of the US’s second offshore wind farm, and New York's first

Don Pollard
Office of Governor Kathy Hochul
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and other elected officials, celebrate the start of construction of South Fork Wind, New York’s first offshore wind project, jointly developed by Ørsted and Eversource off the coast of Long Island.

Developers started construction of the nation’s second offshore wind farm — and New York’s first.

The South Fork Wind project is a 12-turbine offshore wind farm 15 miles off the coast of Block Island near Rhode Island and 35 miles from Montauk Point in the Hamptons. Developers Ørsted and Eversource expect construction will be finished and the wind turbines to produce enough energy to power 70,000 homes by the end of 2023.

“We are moving forward with incredible speed because we can't delay the climate crisis that demands our immediate attention,” U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said.

Haaland said the project aligns with President Biden’s goal of generating 30 gigawatts by 2030, which is enough electricity to power more than 10 million homes.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the wind farm will create hundreds of skilled jobs, including for burying a high-powered transmission cable, to connecting eastern Long Island to turbines offshore.

“This is what I want to make sure we see happen,” Hochul said in Wainscott, where she and Biden administration members met with local officials and labor unions. “We lift people up in communities that have been not having the same opportunities, communities of color in particular, and also individuals who've just been left on the sidelines. And I want to see more women in these jobs. I go to work sites all over. And I know the labor unions want to see this happen as well.”

Fabrication of the project's offshore substation and turbines are already underway at facilities, including South Brooklyn marine terminal, which will be transformed into a staging area, and operations and maintenance hub for some of the wind farms poised for the New York Bight.

The Biden administration opened six new lease areas last month in the Bight, between New Jersey and Long Island. The U.S. already has over 1.7 million acres for leasing offshore wind, most of which are in the Northeast.

New York’s goal is 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, which is enough to power nearly 6 million homes. New York also has five offshore wind projects in active development, totaling more than 4,300 megawatts that will power more than 2.4 million homes.

“As homegrown experts in regional energy transmission, we have led the way on countless infrastructure projects,” Eversource President and CEO Joe Nolan said, “but … for the very first time, we will be leveraging our expertise to harness the vast, untapped potential of offshore wind."

Hochul said the South Fork Wind project is slated to bring power to East Hampton, in part because, “the harsh impacts and costly realities of climate change are all too familiar on Long Island.”

Outside of the groundbreaking ceremony, Melville-based contractor Haugland Energy Group was hired to install the system for the project's underground onshore transmission line and lead the construction of the onshore interconnection facility located in East Hampton.

The local Hamptons community had sued to block the burying of the transmission cable in residential neighborhoods, starting at Wainscott Beach. Commercial fishing groups also oppose offshore construction that they said will reduce access to fishing grounds. These concerns have arisen in communities across the East Coast that are home to these offshore wind projects.

“We're thinking about the communities who disproportionately bear the burdens of climate change and pollution, as well as the communities who rely on the ocean for their livelihoods and cultural identity,” Haaland said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.