New York Governor Kathy Hochul vetoed a bill that would have accelerated an offshore wind project off the coast of Long Island and allowed the construction of a transmission line under the public beach in the city of Long Beach.
“Renewable energy developers must cultivate and maintain strong relationships with their host communities,” Hochul wrote in her veto letter. “Here, the City Council of Long Beach, the host community of the wind energy project, has made clear that while it supports the state’s efforts to transition from fossil fuel use, it will not support or permit any relocation of the parks.”
The veto sparked accusations from clean energy advocates who have long waited for offshore wind projects to begin in New York. The downstate’s energy sector has become increasingly dependent on natural gas and other fossil fuels in recent years to power one of the world’s most densely populated regions.
Long Beach City Council President John Bendo says residents are keenly aware of rising sea levels and the need for more renewable energy, but they oppose extending a power transmission line through downtown and the beach.
“Our beach is expensive to operate in the summer,” Bindu said in an interview. “We need tourism revenue to keep our beach running and they will likely drive our tourists to other beaches for two years. We cannot afford that.”
Environmental advocates say the governor’s veto shows she is unwilling to fight harder to reach the state’s climate goals.
“There will be opposition to some of these things, that’s OK,” Alex Beauchamp, regional director of Food and Water Watch, said in an interview. “But we have to be tougher about it. If we’re serious that we need to build it, we have to build it.”
The transmission line was part of the sprawling Empire Wind project planned about 20 miles off the coast of Long Island. Developers say it will consist of about 130 turbines and generate 2.1 gigawatts of electricity, or enough to power 1 million homes.
Bindo blames the wind energy developer, Equinor, for not addressing community concerns.
“We begged them to implement some kind of public engagement process to talk to residents. If you want to sell your project to residents, you have to explain the benefits to them,” Bindu said. “And they did nothing. And they didn’t do anything.”
Equinor did not answer questions about its community involvement when asked by Gothamist. Instead, company president Molly Morris emailed a statement saying New York was undermining the state’s renewable energy mandate.
“This decision sends another troubling signal to renewable energy developers following action by the New York State Public Service Commission last week,” Morris wrote, referring to a recent decision. to fail Attempting to renegotiate future energy sales contracts.
This, combined with the veto, casts doubt on the future of the Long Beach wind energy project.
Ari Brown, a Republican state Assemblyman from Nassau County, said this veto essentially kills the project.
“Can someone introduce another bill where the cable wouldn’t go inland and go out to sea? Maybe.” Brown said in an interview. “It doesn’t make economic sense for the company to do that. That’s the problem.”
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