Energy company Equinor is continuing surveys off the coast of Lido Beach and Long Beach as well as in Reynolds Channel this month, as part of the Empire Wind Project, in conjunction with the City of Long Beach, the Town of Hempstead and the Village of Island Park, with the hope of bringing renewable offshore wind energy to New York.
Island Park residents may have seen the small lift boat, Smokey, which was deployed in January, in Reynolds Channel. It will conduct geotechnical surveying through March, collecting data on the underwater soil and rock so that export cables can be laid to carry power from future offshore wind turbines to the electrical grid. Mott MacDonald, an engineering management and development firm and Equinor’s subcontractor, is overseeing the surveying.
“We understand there are a lot of important stakeholders in local waters, with the marina and boaters there,” Ana Fisyak, Equinor’s community engagement manager, told the Herald. “We want to thank everyone for their flexibility while we get New York state to their clean energy goal of nine gigawatts.”
Fisyak expects the surveying in Reynolds Channel to take only six or seven days if the weather cooperates. Smokey’s work in the channel is still awaiting the completion of a joint permit application, which requires sign-offs from the Army Corps of Engineers, the state departments of Environmental Conservation and Interior, and other agencies.
The energy goal Fisyak referred to was set in July 2019 by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former Vice President Al Gore when Cuomo finalized the nation’s largest offshore wind agreement, creating the Empire Wind and Beacon Wind projects, the second of which will be located in the Atlantic between Cape Cod and Long Island. Cuomo said at the time that he hoped the projects would be able to power 2 million homes and meet nearly 10 percent of the state’s electricity needs by 2025.
The Empire Wind Project, a partnership between Equinor and British Petroleum, will be located 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island and spans 80,000 acres, with water depths between 65 and 131 feet. Once completed in the mid-2020s, the project is expected to bring 1,260 megawatts of energy, enough to power roughly a million homes in New York.
“It’s exciting to bring an entire new industry to Long Island,” Harrison Feuer, Equinor’s director of New York public affairs, said. “This used to be an area that had that sort of commanding industry, then Long Island became the first suburb in America. So I think bringing a new industry to the Island that can create good jobs and bring innovation is really exciting to be a part of.”
Feuer is a former staffer for former U.S. Rep. Steve Israel and State Assemblyman Chuck Levine who lives on the North Shore.
In a fact sheet sent out to residents, Equinor said that lights may be visible at night on Reynolds Channel during the surveying, and there may be some noise during the day. The will usually take place from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Boaters will still be able to pass through the channel, but are asked to give the barges some distance, according to Fisyak.
She encouraged Island Park, Lido Beach and Long Beach residents to contact her if they have any questions or concerns, at email@example.com.