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Groundbreaking Held For New York's First Wind Farm Project

EAST HAMPTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - There was a milestone Friday in New York's move toward clean energy.

A groundbreaking was held in East Hampton for a major offshore wind project. It'll be only the second in the nation.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reports, it will be the first of at least five wind farms coming to our waters.

There were ceremonial shovels for an historic turning point: New York's first offshore wind farm.

Actual shovels will be digging 35 miles off of Montauk Point, bringing clean energy to 70,000 East End homes.

"If you ask what the energy future looks like, I say 'The answer my friend is blowing in the wind,'" said Gov. Kathy Hochul.

South Fork Wind is hailed as a tangible step in cutting carbon emissions.

"That's the same as taking 60,000 cars off the road," Hochul said.

The state's first wind farm off East Hampton because the town committed to 100% renewables to meet growing energy demands.

"We think that it's a model that should be repeated across the country," said East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc.

"America's clean energy transition is not a dream for a distant future. It's happening right here and it's happening right now," said Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland.

It's the start of something big: The first of five wind farms planned to help New York meet its goal of a zero carbon electric grid by 2040.

"It's the start of a brand new, extremely large, clean energy source," said Thomas Falcone of the Long Island Power Authority. "In the next seven years, we are going to transform the way that Long Island and New York get their energy."

It's not all cheers for the project. With the transmission lines in Wainscott, there is opposition from some residents and commercial fishing.

"You don't destroy the environment in order to save it," said Bonnie Brady of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.

"Would you want to go swim in the ocean when there's, what, 35 megawatts of current flowing through that?" said Wainscott resident Michael Wooten.

The company promises no impact on the beach during the cable installation and any inconvenience will be temporary, while advocates say the long-term good impacts everyone: Good jobs, stable electric rates, and fighting climate change.

"People need to support offshore wind so that Long Island can be sustainable and livable now and in the future. We have seen the ravages of climate change," said Adrienne Esposito of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

The state's goal is to power six million homes with wind power by the middle of the next decade.

The 12 turbines off of Montauk Point will be operational by the end of 2023.

Facone released the following statement:

In 2017, the forward-thinking approach of the LIPA Board of Trustees led to the approval of the South Fork Wind project at a time when there were no other power purchase agreements for offshore wind in the country. As the first offshore wind farm in New York, South Fork Wind is the beginning of a new industry for our region that will be vital to New York meeting its goal of a zero-carbon electric grid by 2040.

Hochul says New York just finalized contracts for two more offshore wind farms.

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