Public forum centers on offshore wind proposal

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A new blueprint to build hundreds of wind turbines off the coast of Long Island was unveiled Monday at a public meeting in Southampton.

New York state wants to use wind to power more than 1.2 million homes on Long Island. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, presented its blueprint to place roughly 240 wind turbines 21 miles off New Jersey and part of the South Shore of the Island. Officials say it would take care of 13 percent of the Island's energy needs.

"For us the concern isn't how much of a problem it will be if we do this," says Adrienne Esposito, of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Our concern is how much of a problem we will have if we don't transition away from fossil fuels to offshore wind."

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But leaders of the Island's fishing industry say their concerns are serious. Bonnie Brady, of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, wants to know if the state has a plan in place if the marine life is adversely affected by a wind farm.

"We are begging you to listen to us, and instead we are being pushed off as we only care about fishing," Brady says. "We care about the fish. We care about our future."

NYSERDA officials say an extensive study has been done in an effort to find an area where there will be the least impact to boaters and marine life.

"The areas that New York has proposed to the federal government are reflective of that feedback, that valuable feedback that we received," says Doreen Harris, of NYSERDA. "It really identifies areas that presented the least conflict and the greatest value for New Yorkers."

The public comment period for the blueprint ends May 29. Another meeting will be held 6 p.m. Tuesday at 300 Broadhollow Road in Melville.

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