Hochul vetoes bill on Equinor cable in Long Beach


After months of discussion and back-and-forth between supporters and opponents of Equinor’s proposed offshore wind development, Gov. Kathy Hochul has reached a decision about the $3 billion project.

Last Friday, Hochul vetoed a bill Friday that was aimed at speeding up the project planned off Long Beach’s coast. The bill also would have allowed Equinor to run power cables to transfer the energy generated by its wind turbines beneath Long Beach to an Island Park substation. Community members in all of the surrounding areas were stridently opposed to the cables.

The Long Beach City Council openly opposed the idea, and sent a letter to Hochul in July expressing its opposition. The letter stated that the council was “fully in support of the necessary and urgently needed transition to renewable energy” and was ready to engage with an “offshore wind developer that proposes a reasonable project.”

Following Hochul’s veto on Oct. 20, council members shared their appreciation.

“I commend Governor Hochul for doing right by Long Beach and our residents,” council President John Bendo said. “This project failed because Equinor thought they could steamroll their way over Long Beach and do as they please. Our council was proud to stand with our residents in opposition to this, and we are grateful to Governor Hochul for standing with us. We look forward to continuing to keep an open dialogue with her office about this, and many issues facing our residents.”

Equinor’s proposed Empire Wind project had moved a number of people living and working nearby to share their opinions openly — and some of the more prominent ones have been negative. They were detailed in Long Beach City Hall on Oct. 10, during a public forum led by administrative law judges Ashley Moreno and Tara Kersey.

Peter Hilerio, a state public service department staffer, shared more details of the wind energy development, and how it relates to a state process specifically targeting electricity-generating projects involving lines of at least 125 kilovolts that span at least one mile, or those of at least 100 kilovolts that stretch more than 10 miles. Empire Wind would involve the installation of two 345-kilovolt underwater cables stretching nearly eight miles. Onshore, two additional cables, each nearly two miles long, would connect to the substation in Island Park.

The project would also include another connection, extending two miles, to the Hampton Road station in Oceanside. Cables carrying reduced voltage were planned to link the Hampton Road station to an existing transmission line beneath Lawson Boulevard in Oceanside.

Empire Wind expected to produce more than 3.3 gigawatts of clean energy, enough to power more than 2 million homes, according to Teddy Muhlfelder, an Equinor vice president, who also spoke at the forum. One of the larger concerns he said he had heard about is exposure to electromagnetic fields. Even at their peak, Muhlfelder said, EMF levels would fall significantly below the safety thresholds recognized both in New York and internationally.

But many community members remained opposed to the project, and other council members expressed their approval of Hochul’s decision. “We have been in close communication with the governor’s office throughout this process, and appreciate her willingness to listen to the community,” Vice President Liz Treston said. “We fully support the governor’s renewable-energy goals, including offshore wind, but this proposal and this company were wrong on just about every level. In case this veto doesn’t send a strong enough message to Equinor, I’ll take it a step further by calling on them to withdraw their proposal immediately.”

“We’ve done the research, listened to the residents, retained experts and have been ardent in opposing the high-voltage transmission lines running through our densely populated community,” Councilwoman Tina Posterli said. “Today’s veto is a shining example of government and residents working together to do what’s right for the community. Thank you to the governor for listening and doing the right thing.”

State Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick, U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito and Assemblyman Ari Brown also backed the decision.

“This is a major win for Long Island’s South Shore residents, and I thank all of them who have consistently raised awareness about this issue in conversations and community forums,” Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick said. “Governor Hochul’s veto demonstrates that our residents’ voices have been heard loudly. Equinor’s poor business practices, lack of transparency, and blatant disregard for the democratic process have consequences.”

“Through unwavering perseverance and grass-roots determination, we witnessed the triumph of David over Goliath,” Brown added.

“I have been working extremely closely with South Shore community members and colleagues in government to rally against Equinor’s proposed Empire 2 offshore wind project, and I am pleased to learn Governor Hochul heard our calls and vetoed legislation that would have advanced this large-scale development,” D’Esposito said. “I am grateful Governor Hochul has listened to Long Islanders this time, but the fight to preserve our South Shore from Equinor’s corporate greed will continue.”

Additional reporting by Angelina Zingariello.