Beers in hand, about 50 Long Islanders soaked in a presentation regarding the offshore wind farms on tap to combat climate change.
Various labor groups and environmental activists hosted their third “What’s Brewing Offshore?” educational seminar regarding New York’s future as a wind energy powerhouse at the BrickHouse Brewery & Restaurant last Thursday evening.
“The goal is continuing our public education outreach to enlist, engage, and educate members of the public on offshore wind,” Adrienne Esposito, the executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said. “It’s clean, it’s reliable, it’s cost effective, and it’s safe.”
“We want to bring our message to where the public is, and in Patchogue, the public is at breweries,” she added. “People who are out and about in Patchogue are enjoying being by the water, they’re enjoying the outdoors, they’re enjoying the sense of community, and those are things we want to preserve through fighting climate change.”
The consortium sought a happening downtown in the Town of Brookhaven, a township crucial to the Sunrise Wind farm development.
“We’re here in Patchogue because the Town of Brookhaven is a community that will be hosting an interconnection into the Holbrook substation,” Mariah Dignan, the regional director for Climate Jobs NY, a state-wide labor coalition representing 2.6 million working New Yorkers, said. “We really want to focus on getting into the communities early and often, and doing it in a fun way. You grab a beer, you hear about offshore wind, and you have a good time with your friends.”
The Sunrise Wind and South Fork Wind projects—and their combined ability to power hundreds of thousands of Long Island homes—took center stage Thursday evening. Joint initiatives of Dutch-based Ørsted and New England’s Eversource, both projects will sprout more than 30 miles east of Montauk to produce over 1,000MW of power.
Construction on the South Fork initiative began in February and is projected to finish late 2023. Meanwhile, the Sunrise Wind project, still in its environmental review and permitting process, is expected to operate in 2025.
Progress on the two Long Island projects occurs amid an exciting time for New York’s renewable energy future. In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a $500 million investment in the ports, manufacturing, and supply chain infrastructure to bolster the state’s offshore wind capabilities. The following month, the Biden administration sold offshore wind development rights for parcels totalling more than 488,000 acres in the New York Bight to six developers for a combined $4.37 billion.
These milestones arrived nearly three years after the signing of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act—which calls for renewable sources to generate 70 percent of New York’s electricity by 2030 and a carbon-free electric grid by 2040—and the state’s pledge to generate 9,000MW from wind energy by 2035.
Many of the evening’s speakers, including elected officials, discussed the economic benefits of these projects and their appeal that may retain younger islanders. Ørsted and Eversource committed $10 million to create a National Workforce Training Center in a partnership with trade unions and Suffolk County Community College. They additionally committed $5 million to Stony Brook University’s Advanced Energy Research and Technology Center to support research projects to advance offshore wind energy development and grid integration. Using Port Jefferson harbor as its home port and establishing an operations and maintenance hub in East Setauket will also create approximately 100 permanent direct jobs.
Dignan explained manufacturing is the most viable sector for job creation as the island’s wind farms progress.
“These two issues—the climate crisis and the growing economic inequality and the needs for good wages and good jobs—they intersect,” Dignan said. “And this offshore wind industry is a perfect opportunity to bridge that gap. We can address the climate crisis, and we have the opportunity to create thousands of good union jobs across the industry.”
“This is just the beginning of wind,” Brookhaven Town supervisor Ed Romaine said. Romaine, who recalled celebrating the first Earth Day nearly 52 years ago to the day, expressed the need to accelerate the island’s transition to renewable energy. “We’d like to see things move even faster because we are in a race to save this planet.
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