Last Wednesday, LIPA unanimously approved Deepwater Wind’s proposal to build the nation’s largest offshore wind farm approximately 30-35 miles off the coast of Montauk, New York. Construction will include fifteen turbines with a 90 megawatt capacity able to power 50,000 homes. The turbines will be built out of sight to address vehement public comments against blighted ocean vistas.
IT IS NOT THE FIRST AND IT WILL NOT BE THE LAST
Long Island’s latest offshore wind farm approval is not the first of its kind in the United States. America’s first offshore wind farm located three miles off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island, began delivering energy to the Ocean State in December 2016. Although our neighbor to the north took the inaugural step, New York leads the charge into the future of offshore renewable energy development. Our coastline boasts some of the world’s strongest offshore winds, and New York State plans to take advantage of these endless oceanic gusts.
The Montauk project is part-and-parcel of a 250-plus square mile area to be developed, with upwards of 200 turbines generating an estimated 2.4 gigawatts to power 1.25 million homes. New York is studying a 16,740 square-mile area (an area approximately twice the size of New Jersey) stretching from south of Manhattan eastward into the Atlantic, extending out to the break of the continental shelf. In addition, last month the federal government leased 80,000 acres of land south of Queens County, New York, to international energy giant Statoil for development. Statoil endeavors to build seventeen miles offshore and provide 800 megawatts of power. The federal government recently awarded several other offshore leases for development up and down the east coast, from Rhode Island to Virginia.
NOTES FROM BLOCK ISLAND – THE LOCAL IMPACTS OF DEVELOPMENT
Deepwater Wind’s Block Island project boosted the local economy and showcases many benefits of clean, renewable energy development. Five offshore turbines harness wind energy capable of powering 17,000 homes. This wind energy meets 90% of Block Island’s power needs, and additional energy is sent back to the electricity grid. The developer (Deepwater Wind) is a locally-based company and is an expanding business in the region. During construction, the project employed more than 300 local workers over two years, including local contractors. Many more workers will be employed to maintain, repair and update the farm. Atlantic Pioneer, the vessel that transported the project’s crews, was built in Rhode Island and will service the Block Island farm for at least twenty years. Lastly, and most importantly, the farm accomplished the overall goal of harnessing wind energy by producing upwards of 30 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.
WHAT’S ON THE HORIZON
New York City and Long Island consume almost half of New York’s annual electricity usage, and continued development of Long Island’s East End fuels electricity consumption. In an effort to suffice 50% of the State’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030, public and private parties alike are investing tremendously to research and develop additional sites to harness nature’s invisible gift. To provide for efficient and cost-effective paths to develop offshore wind farms, the State issued a Blue Print for the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan in September 2016 and anticipates releasing an Offshore Wind Master Plan by the end of 2017.