COMMUNITY AWARENESS: A WIND FARM FORUM IN BROOKLYN

OFFSHORE WIND FARM
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The New York State Energy Research and Development Administration (NYSERDA) will conduct an open house on Wednesday, September 25th, 2019 at the SIM Recycling Facility in Park Slope Brooklyn.  NYSERDA will discuss the State’s efforts to advance offshore wind, including New York’s awards for 1,696 Megawatts of offshore wind energy to two developers.  The public is invited to meet Offshore Wind Team and employees from Ostead and Equinor to discuss local impacts and opportunities.

The SIM Municipal Recycling Facility is located at 472 2nd Avenue Brooklyn, NY.

A B.O.E.M. “CALL” STARTED IT ALL

In 2018, the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) published a ‘Call for Information and Nominations’ relative to developers interests to enter into commercial wind energy leases along the Atlantic continental shelf.

Existing Wind turbines are already a reality.  Orsted operates its wind farm in the waters off Rhode Island.  New Yorkers must brace themselves for the inevitable birth of wind turbines dotting the harbor and the offshore New York Bight.  The Empire Wind project, awarded to Equinor, will begin construction of its wind farm in a 80,000 acre zone twenty miles south of the New York coastline between Jones Beach and the Rockaways.   In fact, the SIM Recycling facility already has an operational wind turbine on its property, as does Bayonne New Jersey.

LOCAL BROOKLYN BENEFITS FROM A NEW FACILITY AT THE SOUTH BROOKLYN MARINE TERMINAL.

In the Autumn of 2018, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (EDC), Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams breathed life into a drawing-board project to house a facility zoned to manufacture wind turbine parts in the Sunset Park industrial terminal.  Equinor is anxious to move in as one of its ‘prospective tenants’ to this facility.  Mayor Bill de Blasio is referring to it as the Sustainable South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SSBMT).  The terminal will become a training center to educate an estimated 250 port-related new hires and it will boost additional marine cargo and barge vessels to move bulk resources by sea.  U.S. Representative Jerrold Nadler, whose office is in Sunset Park, stated this was “a momentous step in the revitalization of the Brooklyn waterfront and the first step in a phased development of the constructing a major deep-water container port centered at SBMT”.

NEW YORK’S COMMITMENT TO CREATE MEGAWATTS OF POWER

NYSERDA has set a goal of producing offshore wind projects that will generate power anywhere from 800 to 2400 megawatts by the year 2030.  The Call Areas would be required to meet New York State’s recommendation that BOEM designate four 800 Megawatt lease areas.   Orsted is poised to begin construction of its latest government sanctioned project, the South Fork Wind Farm, off the eastern waters of Montauk.  Slated to be operational in 2022, the farm is projected to produce enough electricity to run 70,000 homes on the South Fork of Long Island.
ANALYZING THE POSSIBLE CONSEQUENCES OF OFFSHORE WIND FARM REAL ESTATE LEASES
Despite the boast of creating clean energy, such development will present possible adverse side affects in the wind farm locations.  In May of this year, Jessie Hornstein of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) talked to NYHC about his agency’s mission to support and maintain marine aquatic life of plants, fish, and mammals in New York waters.
Wind farms will quickly establish new ocean zones that will aesthetically change the look of the offshore horizon.  The farms will create a new culture and demand for support vessels and equipment, not to mention the additional responsibilities for the USCG to regulate and monitor these areas.

Last year, Edward J. Kelly, Executive Director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, referred to the BOEM Call Areas that dot the entire ocean span from the south of Cape Cod to New York Harbor as a heavily trafficked “regulated navigation area.”  It comprises of six traffic lanes and three separation zones.  Kelly asked BOEM to make the safety of marine navigation “the overriding factor when considering offshore development.”   Collisions with other vessels or energy structures is his major concern.

Marine mammal migratory areas are also high on the list of adverse affects.  Mammals already suffer from high frequency sound generation that has great consequences on their ability to navigate not to mention a disturbance to reproduction habits.

Underwater marine mammal data collection devices will need to coexist with the wind farm structures.  Sensitive data may be compromised or considered unreliable if readings are inaccurate.
Naturalist Celia Ackerman recently discussed the fragility of sea grasses aboard the American Princess, a whale watching vessel leaving Far Rockaway for the New York Bight.  The ecosystems surrounding these farms must be studied to ensure future growth.  Will the foundations of the farm also serve as an ‘artificial reef‘?
A MANAGED COMMITMENT
As always, a delicate balance must be well thought out in advance of implementation and construction.  All facets of the marine community are encouraged to make their concerns public.  A call to action must be the agreed course in a well managed commitment.

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