Local, state officials back proposed Port Jeff offshore wind project

Local, state officials back proposed Port Jeff offshore wind project

A ship Orsted plans to use to transport the wind turbines. Photo from SKDKnickerbocker

The wind was whipping along the shores of Port Jefferson Harbor April 3, ironically as local and state officials, along with representatives from energy corporations, advocated in support of a proposal to build an offshore wind “hub” in Port Jefferson to use wind for renewable energy. 

Danish energy company Ørsted, the largest energy company of its home country, teamed up with Eversource, a Massachusetts-based energy company, in submitting a joint bid to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Their project, a wind farm called Sunrise Wind, would be located over 30 miles east of Montauk Point, but using Port Jeff as its base of operations. 

Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) at a press conference hosted in Port Jeff. Photo by David Luces

Fred Zalcman, head of government affairs for Ørsted, said once the wind farm is operational the hub in Port Jeff would create up to 100 permanent full-time jobs as well as temporary construction jobs while the hub and its facilities are being built. 

“When completed in full scope [the project] will provide up to 500,000 households with clean and renewable electricity,” Zalcman said. “All without any visual impacts to Long Island beach goers and residents.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone (D) praised the proposal for promoting the transition to clean energy on Long Island. 

“This is about jobs and economic development,” he said. “We have talked about the importance for Long Island transitioning to clean energy — and that transition needs to happen quicker than a lot of people thought.”

The operations and maintenance hub in Port Jeff will provide dockage for a 250-foot service operation vessel. The ship would come to port every two to four weeks for approximately one to two days at a time to exchange crew and materials for the wind farm. The vessel will be able to accommodate about 60 technicians and 40 crew members.  

The county executive mentioned the proposed project is an opportunity to create a “21st century industry of high paying jobs.”

“These are the jobs of the future, and these are the jobs we want to see on Long Island and in Suffolk County,” he said. 

Zalcman said if they are awarded the bid by the state, they would need to break ground and begin construction in Port Jeff within 18 months to meet deadlines. Development could last through the mid-2020s.  

Kevin Law, president and CEO of the Long Island Association has been promoting offshore wind for the past 10 years, and he said it works. 

“We now have multi-billion-dollar international companies looking to invest in our region,” Law said. “I’ve always said our energy challenges are economic development opportunities.”

Ørsted is also the owner and operator of the Block Island Wind Farm, the first and only operating wind farm in the U.S. currently. Last year, they acquired Deepwater Wind, the company originally handling the Block Island project, and now are responsible for New York’s first offshore wind project, the South Fork Farm under contract with the Long Island Power Authority. 

“I’ve always said our energy challenges are economic development opportunities.”

— Kevin Law

Maria Hoffman, chief of staff for Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket), said the bid amounts are not made public until after the awards are announced. Each of the four major developers seeking the NYSERDA funds submitted several proposals with varying megawatt capacities.

In conjunction to the project, Ørsted announced in February it will invest $10 million to create a National Workforce Training Center at Suffolk County Community College to train students in offshore wind and renewable energy technology. The creation of the hub in Port Jeff and the training center are contingent on NYSERDA selecting Sunrise Wind in its pending offshore wind request for proposal. 

NYSERDA has said it plans on announcing the winner of the award within the month, according to Ørsted officials.

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