Is the promise of wind energy off L.I.’s shores fading?


As a result of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, signed into law in 2019, New York committed to ambitious targets to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 in all sectors of the economy. In pursuit of that goal, Equinor was awarded contracts to build Empire Wind I and II, which were slated to be constructed off the southern coast of Nassau County, where my Senate district is located.
The proposal included a path for high-powered transmission cables through coastal beaches and a densely populated section of Long Beach. Throughout the process, Equinor failed to adequately address the community’s concerns about the impact on marine life and the potential health risks associated with electromagnetic field emissions from the cables.
Imposing arbitrary benchmarks laid out by the act does not allow these goals to be met, but instead creates chaos like we recently saw in Long Beach. Companies like Equinor feel emboldened to come into our communities and display an abysmal lack of transparency and communication in the face of residents’ concerns. Rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue and addressing the concerns of local communities, they resort to underhanded tactics to further their agenda.
Equinor’s underhanded tactics were on blatant display in the passing of Senate bill S6218A, which included language that would have advanced Equinor’s plan to run high-voltage transmission cables through the heart of Long Beach. The language was taken from a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ari Brown and me, at the request of the Long Beach City Council. With rare exceptions, these types of bills are carried by local representatives to ensure they are not advanced without support from the impacted community.
In the face of the lack of transparency from Equinor and public outcry, I did not allow this bill to advance. During the last days of the legislative session, a senator from Brooklyn added that language to a separate bill and passed it through the Senate over my objections. However, after the hard-fought efforts of our residents, Brown, U.S. Rep. Anthony D’Esposito and I, Gov. Kathy Hochul vetoed this bill, citing the public outcry over the project. Her veto prevents the beach parkland in Long Beach from being used for the proposed transmission cable route through the beach and city.

Just prior to the veto, the state Public Service Commission unanimously denied Equinor’s request for an additional $12 billion in subsidies for renewable-energy projects. You would think the story is over at this point, but there are more chapters unfolding every day.
Hochul recently unveiled the 10 Point Renewable Energy Action Plan, set to be executed by the state Energy Research and Development Authority. This initiative aims to elevate New York’s sustainable energy production, including offshore wind projects. My concern with this plan isn’t the ambition itself, but rather the details of its implementation, which remain unclear as of this moment, such as unrealistic targets for offshore wind energy.
Additionally, if we allow foreign companies to build in our waters, we may have no guarantees that the jobs related to these projects will go to New Yorkers, let alone to Nassau County residents. It is imperative that we employ a collaborative style of policy development that considers local needs, local labor, and the preservation of local character, while also considering community input.
I certainly favor our state’s endeavors in advancing toward a cleaner, more robust energy future. However, while we all recognize the importance of transitioning to cleaner energy sources, it’s crucial that such plans do not come at the expense of our communities or ratepayers, and that the companies involved in these projects are willing to engage the stakeholder communities meaningfully. It is also imperative that we explore other clean energy sources, such as green hydrogen, so that we aren’t putting all our eggs in one basket.
I don’t know where this story will end, but I remain committed to safeguarding our communities and protecting our residents from governmental overreach. I will continue to uphold transparency in decision-making processes to ensure that local voices are always heard.

Patricia Canzoneri-Fitzpatrick represents the 9th Senate District.