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State gives go-ahead to plan to transform Sunset Park waterfront facility into wind hub

January 14, 2021 Brooklyn Eagle Staff
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A plan to repurpose a venerable port facility in Sunset Park as a center for renewable energy has been given the go-ahead by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

The plan, first proposed by the energy firm Equinor, will transform the semi-dormant South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, described on SUNY Maritime College’s website as one of the biggest waterfront facilities on the East Coast, into a hub for staging and assembling wind-power equipment. The Marine Terminal stretches from 29th to 36th Streets on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Throughout last year, the proposal was publicized and supported by clean-energy advocates as well as public officials, including Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. The South  Brooklyn Marine Terminal site competed with 10 other ports for state funding.

The Equinor manufacturing and assembly proposal involves two ports, the Port of Albany and the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal.

At the Brooklyn site, according to a statement from the company, Equinor will “invest in port upgrades to help transform SBMT into a world-class offshore wind staging and assembling facility and become the operations and maintenance (O&M) base both for Equinor and other project developers going forward.”

A rally this past December in favor of the plan to make the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in Sunset Park into a wind-industry hub. Seen here are Sen. Chuck Schumer and (at right) Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. Photo courtesy of Sen. Chuck Schumer

Furthermore, the statement said, “SBMT will be one of the largest dedicated offshore wind port facilities in the United States at approximately 73 acres, with the capacity to accommodate wind turbine generator staging and assembly activities at the scale required by component manufacturers.”

As for the actual wind turbines, once they are finished, they are slated to be installed at two “wind farm” sites 20 miles off the coast of Long Island, so don’t be looking for groups of huge windmills on the Sunset Park waterfront.

Altogether, according to the Governor’s Office, Equinor’s combined proposals will “leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities, and will ultimately yield 2,600 short- and long-term jobs in the offshore wind industry.”

“These projects will deliver homegrown, renewable electricity to New York and play a major role in the state’s ambitions of becoming a global offshore wind hub. The U.S. East Coast is one of the most attractive growth markets for offshore wind in the world,” said Anders Opedal, CEO of Equinor.

The South Brooklyn Marine Terminal was built in the 1960s and was once an active container terminal and general cargo facility, but it closed in Sunset Park, according to SUNY Maritime. 

Today, companies that use the site include Sims Municipal Recycling, which has an 11-acre recycling center and the city’s only commercial-scale wind turbine; a freight railroad yard and rail float facility for New York New Jersey Rail; and a scaled-down auto processing plant.

Over the years, there have other plans to revitalize the site, such as a proposal to move the Red Hook Container Port there, a plan that was covered by the Eagle. The site is currently managed by the city’s Economic Development Corp.

“I am grateful that today, Governor Cuomo listened to our calls to build an offshore wind turbine manufacturing hub at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. As I have consistently said– alongside an incredible coalition of activists and local, state, and federal elected officials– we can and must revitalize our coastline and support the Sunset Park community in a way that is environmentally and economically beneficial,” Public Advocate Williams said on Wednesday.

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