2008-09-26 / Front Page

Wind Power Considered Off Rockaway Shore

By Nicholas Briano

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) is reconsidering harnessing wind power as a renewable alternate energy source; this time in conjunction with Con Edison.

Those considerations have brought them to discussions about the potential of a wind energy project ten miles off the shore of the Rockaway peninsula.

This is not the first time LIPA has explored wind energy. Just a year ago, they scratched plans to build an $800 million wind farm off the shores of Jones Beach when costs exceeded initial estimates. This time around, however, LIPA is returning to a larger proposal in conjunction with Con Edison for a 100 field turbine wind farm that would potentially enable renewable energy transmission to New York City and Long Island.

Governor Paterson, along with LIPA and Con Edison, announced this week the formation of a working group to study the possibility of the wind farm. The plan depends on the two utilities being able to agree on an economically feasible plan that is beneficial to both Long Island and New York City. LIPA representatives made it clear that there are no proposals on the table just yet, just the agreement to get together and talk about possibilities.

The talks come from the recommendations made by Governor Paterson's Renewable Energy Task Force, which wants to introduce wind power to the New York City area. The major hurdle however, LIPA says, lies in the fact that it is more difficult to transmit wind power in the downstate regions close to the city.

"The partnership between LIPA and Con Ed could provide New Yorkers with a cleaner, brighter future, and I look forward to the conclusion of this project," Paterson said.

If a plan is agreed upon between the two utility companies, they will split the costs and share the energy derived from the wind farm.

"As a member of Governor Paterson's Renewable Energy Task Force, I share the Governor's desire to introduce more wind resources in the metropolitan region," Kevin Law, President and CEO of LIPA, said in a press release. "While there is plenty of wind power upstate, there is a transmission bottleneck that makes it difficult to get it to New York City and Long Island, and we need to do some planning to see if offshore wind makes sense downstate."

Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer didn't understand why neither she nor any other Rockaway state official was notified prior to the announcement.

"It seems like the only people who knew about this was LIPA, Con Edison and the Governor," she said. "I am kind of surprised that it was announced this way."

Pheffer says she is open to the idea of a renewable energy source, but wouldn't comment about the details until she learned more about future proposals and specific plans.

It is unclear whether the wind turbines, estimated as tall as 450 feet, would be visible over the horizon 10 miles offshore.

"The community needs to know if this is beneficial to us and whether or not we will be able to see the wind farm over the horizon, we just don't know yet what it would look like and how exactly it will benefit the community."

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