South Fork Wind Farm survey underway

Fri, 07/14/2017 - 8:00am

Deepwater Wind is in the process of surveying its second project, a 15-turbine wind farm with a 90-megawatt capacity that can power 50,000 homes on Long Island. The South Fork Wind Farm project was approved by the Long Island Power Authority board in January to meet power demands in the Hamptons.

The survey of the wind farm, the nation’s second offshore wind farm, is currently underway and involves assessment of the project’s cable route and siting area, located 15 miles southeast of Block Island and 30 miles from Montauk Point in Rhode Island Sound between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard. The developer has told The Block Island Times that the turbines will not be visible from Montauk, and barely discernible from Block Island.

“Deepwater Wind will be conducting survey operations along the projected cable route and inside our North Lease Area in relation to the South Fork Wind Farm. These operations involve only the survey phase,” said Fisheries Liaison Elizabeth Marchetti in her daily email briefing. “When completed, the South Fork Wind Farm will consist of approximately 15 advanced offshore wind turbines able to generate 90 megawatts. Depending on the schedule for permitting, construction could start as early as 2019 and the wind farm could be operational as early as 2022.”

Deepwater Wind sited the wind farm within a 256-square mile parcel that the developer is leasing from the federal government, which has room for up to 200 wind turbines, The developer has said that it could install more than 100 wind turbines in that locale that could generate a gigawatt of energy to power about 750,000 homes.   

The South Fork Wind Farm will be connected to a mainland substation in East Hampton by a 50-mile long undersea transmission cable that will be installed six feet beneath the seabed through federal waters around the southern coast of Block Island. In comparison, National Grid’s 20-mile long sea2shore marine cable connects Block Island to the mainland, while Deepwater Wind’s eight-mile long export cable links the Block Island Wind Farm to the island.

In order to conduct the survey, a vessel called the Fugro Enterprise arrived in New Bedford from the Gulf of Mexico before embarking to survey the siting and cable locations. It will be carting an assortment of equipment designed to take readings of the targeted areas, including side scan sonar, magnetometer and a PAM (passive acoustic monitoring) hydrophone to monitor for marine mammals and noise, to name a few.  

In her report, Marchetti noted that, “All mariners transiting or fishing in the area of the survey area are requested to provide a wide berth to survey vessels, as they will be limited in their ability to maneuver and towing gear out to 300 meters behind the vessel. Vessels in the vicinity of the survey vessel should operate in a manner that will not endanger the vessel or associated equipment.”