Governor Vetoes Controversial Wind Bill; “developers must win support from host communities”

By B.N. Frank

Opposition to offshore wind development is not going away.  Dead whales and other marine life have been washing up on beaches (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) and Americans continue to take legal action against projects.  Of course, increasing costs are associated with these projects as well.  Despite their numerous problems, some U.S. lawmakers are determined to continue approving and funding these projects; however, state authorities in New York recently put the kibosh on that.  Governor Hochul vetoed a controversial pro-wind bill as well.

From Newsday:

Gov. Hochul vetoes bill related to offshore wind farm cable in Long Beach

By Yancey Roy

ALBANY — Citing local opposition, Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday vetoed a controversial wind power bill that contained a passage that could have allowed a proposed transmission cable in Long Beach to move through regulatory hurdles.

The governor said that while she supports wind power development, she said developers must win support from host communities — which hadn’t happened in Long Beach.

This was the second regulatory blow in eight days for Empire Wind, a wind farm proposed by Norway-based Equinor in the waters south of Nassau County. Some opponents said the veto could spell the death knell for the project while supporters criticized Hochul, a Democrat, for not fully supporting renewable energy.

Equinor said the veto “undermines” New York’s commitment to renewable energy but didn’t say if it would cancel Empire Wind.

The bill nixed by Hochul contained a passage that could, in the future, allow Equinor to land a transmission cable from an offshore turbine and run it under the beach at Long Beach to a transfer station in Island Park.

Because the beach is considered parkland, the state would have to give Long Beach permission to “alienate” a parcel to land the cable. Language to do so was tucked into the statewide wind power bill — over the objections of Republicans who represent Long Beach. The State Legislature approved the bill in June following lengthy and heated debates.

But Hochul put the brakes on it. Her decision is a win for some local Democratic and Republican officials who opposed the bill, but the latest setback for wind power advocates.

Hochul in her veto message put some of the responsibility for the veto on the company: “It is incumbent on renewable energy developers to cultivate and maintain strong ties to their host communities throughout the planning, siting and operation of all large-scale projects.”

“Here, the City Council of Long Beach, the host community for the wind power project, has made clear that while it supports the State’s efforts to transition from the use of fossil fuels, it would not support or authorize any alienation of parkland in furtherance of this project,” the governor said.

This was the first veto issued by Hochul in 2023.

Last week, state regulators rejected Equinor’s request, citing inflation, to charge higher rates for power the project is supposed to supply to New York’s electric grid. The rejection raises the possibility the company now will view the project as unfeasible.

Regarding the veto, Molly Morris, president of Equinor Renewables America, said: “This decision sends another troubling signal to renewable energy developers following” the rate hike rejection.

Some Democrats and Republicans cheered the veto — while claiming credit for it — saying Hochul listened to their concerns. Long Beach City Council members said Hochul has “all but killed” the project.

“I commend Governor Hochul for doing right by Long Beach and our residents,” council president John Bendo said in a joint statement with other members.

“Governor Hochul’s veto demonstrates that our residents’ voices have been heard loudly,” said Sen. Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick (R-Malverne). “While I support New York State’s pursuit of a cleaner and more diversified energy future, it must be achieved in a way that minimizes the burdens on ratepayers and the impacts on local communities. It has become evident that this project would fail to accomplish either of these goals.”

Jay Jacobs, the state and Nassau County Democratic chairman, said Hochul was responding to Long Beach Democrats — not Republicans — who urged a veto. The veto came less than three weeks before Election Day when local offices are up for grabs across the state.

Jacobs said the veto should help local Democratic candidates.

“I see Republicans trying to take credit — that’s ridiculous,” Jacobs told Newsday. “This demonstrates it’s Democrats that get things done.”

Wind power proponents blasted Hochul’s decision.

“The governor’s actions are not matching her words,” said Fred Zalcman, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. “As a previously professed champion of offshore wind, we are once again mystified by the governor’s decision to veto this essential authorization and to put another nail in the coffin of the Empire Wind project.”

Activist Post reports regularly about wind power and unsafe technologies.  For more information, visit our archives.

Image: Pixabay

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