2012-03-02 / Top Stories

Rockaway Wind Farm Back On Front Burner

Windmills 13 Miles Off Rockaway Shore
By Howard Schwach

Everything old is new again.

In August of last year, The Wave reported that the wind farm planned for the Atlantic Ocean 13 miles off the coast of Rockaway was “on the back burner,” and would probably never see fruition.

Now, it’s back.

The Bloomberg administration has announced that it is supporting an application by a coalition led by the New York Power Authority to lease a swath of the floor of the Atlantic Ocean for a wind farm off Rockaway’s shores.

A city study says that “Wind farms could play a major role in replacing energy now produced by the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County and eventually generate enough electricity to power a half-million homes in New York City and Long Island.”

The plan calls for hundreds of wind turbines that would one day power the community’s electrical needs and begin the end of the need for foreign fuel.

First announced in 2008 and endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the massive offshore wind farm was set to start spinning by 2015. Currently, it is sputtering, officials say.

In August, Jonathan Foster, the vice chairman of the New York Power Authority, told NY1 News that the “[Rockaway] project is not at the top of the agency’s priority list.”

“At this point, with our leadership somewhat in flux and having also announced two other major projects, the Hudson Transmission Project and also Recharge New York, we’ve got a full plate,” said Foster at the time.

It has been more than a two years since the Power Authority got approval to apply for a federal lease on the ocean floor, but they applied for the land only last September. Large-scale offshore wind projects have had trouble gaining traction in the United States. Advocates say it has mostly to do with economics and a lack of enthusiasm for wind power. “It’s more expensive, yes, because it hasn’t been tried,” said Kit Kennedy of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “But again, you need to put these projects in. You need to get the experience and then the cost comes down.”

An economic analysis found it would cost between $2.3 billion and $4.7 billion.

The initial plan envisioned an offshore farm between 350 MW, or 97 turbines, and 750 MW, or 194 turbines.

Some Rockaway officials want to see the plan succeed.

“I am going to be communicating with the new head of the Power Authority, when we get a clear understanding of who that is, and try to push this idea,” said State Senator Malcolm Smith. “This is not just for the Rockaways. This is for something that is going to impact the entire city and the entire state.”

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They finally found a way to

They finally found a way to make wind the most expensive energy possible. Put it on a tower in the ocean. There are ocean wind alternatives such as using a flying wind turbine system tethered to a bouy, that are much less expensive to build, generate the same amount of electricity and are easier to maintain and faster to deploy. Otherwise it is just big business as usual.

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