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First Major U.S. Offshore Wind Farm Begins Delivering Power off Long Island Coast

wind farm US

A major milestone has been achieved in the United States’ offshore wind energy journey as the first large-scale project, South Fork Wind, has completed construction and is now delivering power to New York. This 130-megawatt, 12-turbine project, located about 30 miles off the coast of Montauk, Long Island, marks a significant step forward for an industry that has faced turbulent times over the past year.

While the offshore wind portfolios of Northeastern states – which underpin President Joe Biden’s climate goals and targets for the industry – have suffered several cancellations due to higher costs driven by supply chain issues, inflation, and rising interest rates, New York and other state officials have sought to reset and reframe the narrative by making new awards and celebrating progress on ongoing projects.

On Thursday, Governor Kathy Hochul joined project officials and environmental advocates to announce the completion of South Fork Wind, which will be capable of powering 70,000 homes. “Today, at long last, we flip the switch and turn on the future. The future of power generated by the winds,” Hochul declared. “The first of its kind, not just for New York, not just for the Northeast, but for all of America.”

The journey to this milestone has been years in the making, with the Long Island Power Authority inking the deal for South Fork Wind in 2017. The project, originally proposed by Deepwater Wind (which also built the smaller Block Island offshore wind project), overcame several legal challenges, including well-funded opposition to the transmission line that required temporarily digging up a road in the affluent East Hampton area.

In 2019, Danish energy giant Orsted acquired Deepwater Wind, while Eversource, which has since largely divested from the nascent industry, bought a stake. The cost to ratepayers on Long Island for the project is expected to be about $1.35 per month.

The first foundations for South Fork Wind were placed in June 2022, and the 800-foot-tall turbines started to be installed in November, delivering power to the grid as they were completed.

While South Fork Wind is a significant achievement, it is not the only offshore wind project currently under construction in the United States. The 62-turbine, 800-megawatt Vineyard Wind project, contracted to supply Massachusetts, is also underway.

However, other early projects contracted to supply New York and other Northeastern states have faced delays or cancellations. Developers have warned that they cannot complete projects at costs agreed upon before the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In New York, regulators rejected a request from offshore wind companies to increase payments, citing the costs to consumers.

In response, New York conducted a rapid rebidding process, salvaging two projects, including Orsted’s Sunrise Wind. The state has also awarded three newer offshore wind projects expected to be completed by 2030. This forward momentum has received national recognition, with U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland commending New York’s role in “creating the current excitement in the market that we see today.”

Other states, such as Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, have agreed to collaborate on a new procurement after developers withdrew and prices climbed, extending the deadline to March.

In New Jersey, Governor Phil Murphy has staked much of his climate change agenda on clean energy from offshore wind farms. While his administration has approved five offshore wind farms, none are currently under construction, with two being canceled by Orsted last year and the remaining three facing considerable uncertainty.

As the offshore wind industry navigates these challenges, the completion of South Fork Wind serves as a beacon of hope, demonstrating the potential for this renewable energy source to power homes and communities while contributing to the transition towards a more sustainable future.

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