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NY - 'They aren't used to losing': wealthy New York enclave battles over offshore windfarm

Wainscott, a hamlet in the Hamptons, offers a new obstacle in Biden’s renewable energy plans as ‘Nimbys’ fight back with petitions, lobbyists and lawsuits

September 19, 2018

Should Joe Biden’s plans for a huge expansion of renewable energy across the US survive the gamut of congressional bickering, a very different obstacle threatens progress – wealthy homeowners who enjoy sweeping scenic views.

Wainscott, a hamlet in the wealthy New York enclave of the Hamptons, is the unlikely setting for a rancorous battle over what would be the state’s first offshore wind farm. A flurry of angry letters to the local newspaper has escalated to petitions, the hiring of high-powered lobbyists and now lawsuits, in what could presage similar quarrels elsewhere as the Biden administration seeks to support a national boom in new wind turbines at sea and on land.

“It has got poisonous,” said Peter Van Scoyoc, East Hampton town supervisor, whose support for the wind farm has been castigated in vitriolic Facebook posts and now a new lawsuit. “We are a tight-knit community and there have been disagreements in the past, but they haven’t been personalized like they are now.”

Others keep a more stoic silence when faced with the issue that has divided this affluent coastal community. “One guy I play tennis with wants to stop the project,” said Jerry Mulligan, a retired lawyer who is in favor of it. “We try to not talk about it at all.”

The subject of this turmoil isn’t even the wind turbines themselves, a 15-strong cluster called South Fork wind farm that would sit about 35 miles off Montauk, the extreme eastern end of New York’s Long Island. The upscale eastern tip of Long Island, a narrow landmass that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, is fringed by beaches and is known for its wineries, upscale dining and opulent homes. Wainscott is on the southern flank of Long Island and so the turbines wouldn’t be visible from its beach, but a cable to connect the wind farm would have to burrow underneath the hamlet’s beach and several of its streets to join with a substation further inland.

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