The first South Fork Wind turbine is installed

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By Dan Sears

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An offshore wind turbine – the first of 12 – for South Fork Wind has been installed for a planned 130-megawatt offshore wind farm 35 miles off Montauk.

The offshore wind farm has been designed to address what New York State officials call a “growing reliability challenge for Long Island’s electrical grid.”  The wind farm is also expected to generate enough renewable energy to power an estimated 70,000 Long Island homes, eliminate as much as 6 million tons of carbon emissions, “or the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road annually over a 25-year period,” according to the state.

This initiative supports the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to install nine gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035, bringing with it green jobs.

“New York is paving the way towards a clean energy future, and the installation of our first offshore wind turbine marks a momentous step forward,” Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a written statement. “We are not only generating clean energy, but also pioneering a healthy and safe environment for future generations of New Yorkers. We are shaping a brighter, greener tomorrow, committed to a future where innovation and sustainability go hand in hand.”

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The first of South Fork Wind’s 12 Siemens Gamesa wind turbine generators was hoisted into place by the offshore construction team. Hundreds of U.S. workers and three northeast ports have supported South Fork Wind’s construction, helping to stand up the foundations of a new domestic supply chain that’s creating local union jobs across the northeast.

All 12 turbines are expected to be installed by the end of 2023 or early 2024.

First approved by the LIPA Board of Trustees in 2017, South Fork Wind began construction in February 2022, beginning with the onshore export cable system that links the project to the local energy grid, which was completed early this year. The wind farm reached its “steel in the water” milestone in June 2023 with the installation of the project’s first monopile foundation.

Van Oord’s offshore installation vessel, the Aeolus, is installing the turbines. Turbine installation involves using a crane to place the steel turbine tower onto the foundation. The nacelle and rotor are then installed on top of the tower. The blades are then lifted and installed individually by bolting them to the rotor.

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Once in operation, South Fork Wind will be supported by U.S.-built crew transfer vessels and eventually by America’s first offshore wind service 0perations vessel.

“Today marks a significant step in New York’s clean energy journey and implementing Governor Hochul’s vision of a sustainable and resilient future for New Yorkers,” Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone said, in written statement.

“The installation of New York’s first offshore wind turbine represents concrete action transforming the Climate Act’s target of 9 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 into reality, and LIPA is proud to be supporting this project on behalf of our 1.2 million customers on Long Island and in the Rockaways,” he added.

“Days like today provide striking context for the work we do to advance the offshore wind industry in New York,” NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris said, in a written statement. “We congratulate our partners at Ørsted, Eversource, and LIPA as this first turbine at South Fork Wind represents a momentous milestone in our efforts to bring the benefits of clean, renewable offshore wind energy to New York.”

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