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New York to launch South Fork off of Long Island, first major offshore wind farm in U.S., this year

Efforts to combat climate change underway with NY's off-shore wind farm
Efforts to combat climate change underway with NY's off-shore wind farm 04:07

WAINSCOTT, N.Y. - New York has an ambitious goal to fight climate change, and it includes the nation's first major offshore wind farms.

On a gusty day, Wainscott resident Michael Hansen walked the beach hopeful about his children's future. 

"Knowing that there'll be wind power for their future is what makes me happy," he said. 

Stretched beneath the sand 80 feet below him, a new power cable will transmit our energy in the future. 

"You can feel it on your face right now. We have this renewable resource," Hansen said. 

Long Island winds, strong and consistent, will power New York's first offshore wind farm, and its first power cable has made landfall. Snaking 60 miles, by year's end it will connect 12 wind turbines being built 35 miles east of Montauk, ushering in clean energy to 70,000 homes. 

It's the biggest dive into offshore wind in the nation - a first of many.  

"Offshore wind is a really time-tested technology at this point. It has a well over a 30-year track record. There are over 5,000 turbines spinning around the globe. We have a magnificent wind resource, but it's a tremendous resource that only needs to be tapped," Jennifer Garvey, the head of New York market for Orsted Americas, said. 

Tonight: A look at Long Island's offshore wind farms 05:09

It's named South Fork. It will be the first of five wind farms in the works, with four to five more to come. 

New York is pivoting to green energy in a big way, and that takes a big stage. So big, components for the first one are being built in Rhode Island by clean energy developer Orsted Americas and the New England-based utility Eversource. 

In Rhode Island, the nation's smallest state, with only five offshore turbines, there is experience. Traditional trades have retooled their skills.

"Concrete, steel, electrical, we're leveraging those core skill sets towards building up this industry. And we know that we need to do it at the speed and scale that climate demands. So there has to be more of this. So we're going to see a tremendous opportunity in a number of jobs that are coming along with the transition to renewable energy," Allison Ziogas, Orsted head of labor relations, said. 

New York to launch South Fork wind farm - Extended version 04:56

They're churning out energy infrastructure. The brains of the operation - suspended platforms - will be dropped inside the towering turbines. Steel cages will protect the towers from salt water corrosion. And concrete platforms allow access to the turbines at sea. A massive metal ring will encircle the base of an 800 foot tower. On top of it are blades the length of a football field. 

Their renewable power will be transmitted by the cable buried on the ocean floor.  

"The cable itself is about the size of a dinner plate. We bring it ashore through a process that is called horizontal directional drilling. So it basically allows us to bore a hole very deep beneath the road and the beach, and then pull the cable through so we don't have to touch the beach," Garvey said. 

In the final stretch, massive parts are staged in Providence, Rhode Island, ready to be shipped to sea. 

New York's first five wind farms will power 2.5 million homes within five years. Its goal is to produce all electricity with zero emissions by 2040. 

"Right now, Long Island is powered about 80% by fossil fuels. And when we go to 2040 it will be 0% for New York. Off shore wind will probably provide 25% of the state's electricity within the next 10 to 15 years. So it's a massive, renewable clean source of energy at affordable prices. And it's located right near where all the electricity demand is," CEO of LIPA Tom Falcone said.    

"We need to transition downstate from fossil fuels to renewables. And that's a great challenge for New York, because we can't really build anything on the land because there isn't land. So we have to share the ocean," said Adrienne Esposito from Citizens Campaign for the Environment. 

Citizens Campaign is working to dispel misinformation about what they call a proven, safe and affordable alternative to fossil fuels warming our planet. 

"Our marine environment is getting warmer. Long Island Sound is five degrees warmer over the last 13 years. We know that our oceans and our marine waters are getting more acidic. And all of that is hurting our environment, our economy and the way we live," Esposito said. 

"We already are experiencing the effects of a rising sea level. It is irresponsible to do nothing because we are experiencing climate change. It is all around us. And it's all around the world, and it's hitting us in our backyard," said Hansen.  

New York's back yard - its ocean waters - is poised to become the nation's hub for offshore wind, with more projects planned in New York than any other state.  

NYSERDA has held more than 100 public meetings with communities across New York about wind power and public input continues to be solicited for future sites. 

A spokesperson said: 

NYSERDA has held numerous Open House events since 2016 in communities in New York City, Long Island, and the Capital Region, in addition to dozens of regular public webinars and over 100 meetings and programmatic updates. NYSERDA has also held numerous Supplier Forums to provide local businesses opportunities to connect with global suppliers in the offshore wind industry. These events provide information about the offshore wind supply chain so that New Yorkers can understand where they fit in the offshore wind ecosystem and connect with potential partners. All open houses, public webinars, and supplier forum events can also be found in NYSERDA's Events Archive.

Additionally, NYSERDA hosts regular public webinars featuring experts in various topics in offshore wind as an opportunity for members of the public to learn about topics of interest and ask questions. All of those webinar recordings and presentation slides are available on NYSERDA's website.

Additional information on public comment periods and hearings can be found here. The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has also issued a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Empire Wind projects, with associated public comment period and public hearings.

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