2011-06-10 / Top Stories

LIPA Wind Farm Delayed

By Kerri Dinneny

LIPA offshore wind farm plans delayed until 2016 or 2017. LIPA offshore wind farm plans delayed until 2016 or 2017. Recent delays in the construction of LIPA’s wind farm planned to be located off of the southern Rockaway and Nassau Suffolk border create a setback in the environmentally progressive plans. The original idea surfaced back in 2009 with Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) leading the way to be what LIPA calls, the next national leader in “clean, renewable energy.”

A collaborative group that includes LIPA, Con Edison, New York Power Authority, the City of New York, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) forms the efforts that have been driving the offshore wind project.

The project would be placed offshore in the Atlantic Ocean and potentially designed for 350 MW of generation, with the ability to expand it to 700 MW, giving it the potential of being the largest offshore wind proposal in the country and fulfilling former Governor David Paterson’s ‘45 by ‘15’ environmental plans for New York.

Paterson said back in 2009, “These projects will help to make New York the global leader in the clean energy economy. It is projects like these that will make it possible for New York to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through renewable energy and efficiency by 2015, creating 50,000 jobs. I urge the Department of Energy to carefully consider these excellent proposals.”

The collaboration sent out a Request for Information (RFI) at the start of the development in June 2009 and received feedback from almost 30 firms. A myriad of firms ranging from developers, marine services and law firms responded to the RFI. They have been funding and crafting the preliminary research necessary for the initiative’s future structure.

The recent delay of the study has been due to precedence of LIPA’s other projects in the area including analysis of 45 different new proposals on the east coast. Even LIPA trustee, Neal Lewis, executive director of the Molloy College Sustainability Institute, is becoming impatient with the timeline. “It just seems we haven’t made any progress at all,” Lewis said in an interview at the conference. “It’s frustrating. I don’t think it has been given the time and focus that it deserves.”

So far, the preliminary research conducted in the past year showed that the wind initiative could cost up to $6 billion. However, it would generate thousands of jobs for the local region of Long Island and Rockaway, NY. The second part of the economic study called for the creation of a joint LIPA/Con Edison website to keep the wind industry, communities and stakeholders informed of the project’s progress and of a continuing study of the economics and feasibility of the project, including: determining if there are sufficient wind resources to meet the scope of the project; an avian (bird) impact study, further environmental impacts, economic costs, community impact and the potential number of jobs the project could create.

The website (www.linycoffshorewind.com) includes information about the study so far, yet lacks the finalized timeline. The collaboration announces that “the 350MW wind facility operating with just 40% of its capacity would still give enough energy of roughly 112,000 homes a year.” It assuages the concern for beach erosion but is uncertain about the effects on the bird and marine life. In terms of the expected environmental benefits, the New York Public Service Commission estimates that, “every megawatt-hour of displaced fossil power in the state is equivalent to 900 pounds of carbon dioxide. Therefore, a 350 MW wind facility would displace about 540,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing 120,000 cars from local roads.”

The collaborative group’s research right now, “estimates the project’s commercial operation date no earlier than 2016 or 2017,” depending on the Request for Proposals (RFP) that were handed in by the June 1, 2010 deadline last summer. The review of the five proposals had yet to be released and was anticipated in early 2011, which moves the completion to 2016 or 2017, no longer reaching Paterson’s ‘45 by ‘15’ environmental plan.

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