Second Northeast offshore wind farm wins federal approval

The South Fork Wind project that would build 12 offshore wind turbines in waters east of New York has received final federal approval. 

The project, a joint venture between Orsted and the utility Eversource, will supply power to New York state. It will reach the state through underground cables that enter the grid in Montauk, at the eastern tip of Long Island. 

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2023, and the project could be fully operational by the end of that year. 

“We’re excited to reach this critical point and receive BOEM’s final approval of our Construction and Operations Plan,” David Hardy, CEO of Orsted Offshore North America, said in a statement. “As New York’s first offshore wind farm, South Fork Wind is already contributing to a new statewide and U.S. manufacturing era and maritime industry.”

The approval, issued by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, comes as New York state prepares to invest $500 million to support the offshore wind industry. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said the investment is the largest of its kind by any U.S. state. 

Details of the spending plan are still coming together, and the funding will be allocated through a competitive bidding process outlined later this year. But the state intends to divide the money between ports, manufacturing facilities and supply chain infrastructure.  

“As we build out our wind energy capacity, and continue our transition to clean energy, our reliance on fossil fuels must be phased out,” Hochul said in her annual State of the State address.

Further details on where the money will be spent won’t be known until later this year, according to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The agency is developing a Request for Proposals process that will seek investment ideas from potential funding recipients. The state expects its $500 million investment will yield additional private sector investment.

NYSERDA said the process should be similar to a 2020 solicitation supporting offshore wind. That process raised $644 million, three quarters of it from private investors and the rest in public dollars. Money from that round primarily went to two major projects, a wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany and a staging and assembly facility at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Both of those are still in progress. 

The state is not specifying which ports could be the beneficiaries of this round of funding. Contracts will be awarded based on a competitive process that will play out later this year. 

Separately, the federal government has opened 480,000 acres in the New York Bight for offshore wind development. The auction for the six tracts was scheduled for Feb. 23, after Professional Mariner went to press. 

Leases offered in the sale could generate up to 7 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 2 million homes. 

The South Fork Wind development is smaller in scale. Located 35 miles east of Montauk Point and roughly 18 miles south of Block Island, it calls for 12 turbines spaced one mile apart that will generate a total of 132 megawatts of electricity. That is roughly equivalent to electricity consumed by 70,000 homes.  

South Fork Wind is the second major offshore wind project approved in the United States. Vineyard Wind I is already under construction in waters southeast of Martha’s Vineyard. The project calls for construction of 62 wind turbines generating up to 804 megawatts of power — enough for 400,000 homes.