United States

United States

Lots of talk but little action

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Offshore wind development activity by the Long Island duo of Robert Link and Dennis Quaranta, doing business as Winergy LLC, continues to be mainly unofficial. The expected filing of any complete applications with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) for development of offshore wind sites had not been made by mid-January. They have, however, applied to the Corps for a permit to place a temporary meteorological tower on Nantucket Shoals, south-east of the island of Nantucket. That application was handed to USACE on January 17.

"The application is complete," says USACE's Tim Duggan. "We will review this and put it into a package called a public notice. It will have a description of the proposal with maps and diagrams that will be sent to various members of the public who are on our mailing list." Duggan expected the public notice to be issued at the end of January. A public comment period would likely follow that issuance and would likely last 30 days.

The site for the tower is about 41 degrees north and 70 degrees west on Nantucket Shoals and it will "collect wind, wave and other meteorological and scientific data that will be used to evaluate the surrounding area's suitability for an array of wind power generators," according to the application.

"There is no complete permit application anywhere before the Corps of Engineers with regards to any offshore wind energy generation project from Winergy," cautions Larry Rosenberg. "We do have pre-applications. This is the first complete application received by the Corps with regards to this applicant, Winergy LLC, and this is for a single tower, a test tower."

Rosenberg says USACE will take a hard look at Winergy's proposal. "Because of this location, we are going to be relying on all federal resource agencies to identify any environmental impact such as fish, wildlife or endangered species. Any impacts to any endangered species we will not permit," Rosenberg says. "We would work with the applicant to find a different location. Many applicants withdraw their applications."

Link and Quaranta are completely new to energy. Quaranta is a businessman involved with chain steak houses. Link spent about ten years acquiring federal and state permits that allowed him to develop a fish farm at the eastern tip of Long Island. Initially, he told The Boston Globe that he would be getting permits for a "water column lease" for wind turbines to be installed in his fish farm -- and that since he already had permits for the fish farm, the wind turbines would probably be easily permitted.

Subsequently, Corps officials said there was no such thing as a "water column lease" and that the pair would have to go through the same extensive permitting process as all other potential energy developers.

During the fall, Link and Quaranta again made headlines in a few small northeastern newspapers with colourful statements that they intended to file applications for as many as 40 offshore sites. The pair have made very clear that they do not intend to develop the sites. Instead, they hope to get permits, after which they say they will either seek partners or sell the permits.

"No state shall be spared," the playful Link told a Cape Cod Times reporter, who dutifully wrote the sentence down. Link also told the reporter in mid-fall that he would be filing those applications "within ten days." Soon after the chief editor of the Cape Cod Times spoke vehemently on the radio about the threat to Cape Cod's "pristine" environment and said the push to develop offshore wind in the United States was like the California Gold Rush.

The claims by Link and Quaranta have added fuel to the political fire over offshore wind that is now raging along the northeast American coast.

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