Federal Action on Offshore Wind Highlights Need for Cuomo to Commit to Purchase the Power
March 16, 2016
The announcement today by the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that it is moving forward with the potential development of offshore wind (OSW) off of Long Island highlights the need for Governor Cuomo to embrace this opportunity. BOEM has previously identified the area off of Long Island as their number one priority for OSW in the US.
“New York has the gold mine for off-shore wind in the US but we need more leadership from Governor Cuomo to make this happen. We urge the Governor to commit the state to purchase at least 5000 MW of OSW by 2025 and 10,000 MW by 2030. The longer the state delays the more likely that the jobs and other economic benefits from OSW will go elsewhere,” noted Mark Dunlea of the Green Education and Legal Fund.
GELF and others are also urging the City of New York to make a commitment to purchase OSW as part of Mayor de Blasio’s effort to have 100% of its own electricity met by new renewable energy.
Off-shore wind advocates want New York to announce such a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) as part of the various PSC proceedings to promote clean energy. The recent announcement of the Clean Energy Fund failed to make such a commitment but did leave open the possibility that individual utilities could make such agreements as part of the state’s Clean Energy Standards which are expected to be released in June. Individual utilities however oppose this, calling instead for the state to take the leadership.
BOEM has defined a Wind Energy Area totaling approximately 81,130 acres for potential commercial wind energy development. The area is located about 11 miles south of Long Island.
The Wind Energy Area is based on a proposal by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) in 2011, when it submitted an application for a commercial wind lease. At that time, NYPA proposed installing up to 194 wind turbines, each generating 3.6 megawatts (MW) for a total potential yield of nearly 700 MW of wind energy generation for the Long Island and New York City region. BOEM will now complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) to determine potential impacts associated with issuing a lease.
This process may be followed by a leasing auction offered by BOEM. To date, BOEM has issued 11 commercial wind energy leases off the Atlantic coast. These include two leases offshore New Jersey stemming from last November’s competitive lease sale. Other commercial leases include two in a WEA offshore Rhode Island-Massachusetts, another three offshore Massachusetts, one offshore Delaware, two offshore Maryland and one offshore Virginia.
A recent report by the University of Delaware said that the development of OSW has moved backwards in the US over the last decade due to overreliance by government on the market to promote the development of OSW. Scientists agree that the US will not be able to avoid catastrophic change without a major OSW program. If NYS would make a major PPA, it would attract the infrastructure investment that would drive down the costs of OSW by 30% according to a study for NYSERDA by the University of Delaware.
Whatever state builds the first major offshore wind project is likely to attract the infrastructure investment in manufacturing, shipping, ports, and supply chain that will position it to be the center of the offshore wind build out along the east coast. NYPA funded studies show that a single OSW project could generate total economic activity of $1 billion in sales, 8,700 job-years and $610 million in wages for New York State. A 2014 study by Stony Brook University found that if 2,500 MWs of projects were developed, Long Island would get 58,457 construction and operations phase jobs, as well as approximately $12.9 billion in local economic output. In recent months, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maryland have also taken action on OSW that positions them ahead of NYS
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