Offshore Wind Power Gets Airing at LIPA Meeting

wind farm

More than 100 people rallied Thursday in support of a wind farm proposed off Long Island’s coast that was up for debate at a meeting of the Long Island Power Authority board.

Calling it a “Let’s Turn, Not Burn” rally for renewable energy, Long Island ratepayers, community activists, labor and political leaders convened outside the utility’s Uniondale headquarters before the meeting. Once inside the building, they packed the conference room.

“Governor [Andrew] Cuomo and LIPA promised us a greater commitment to renewable energy this year,” said Lisa Dix, senior New York representative of the Sierra Club, the national environmental organization. “Now, we’re counting on them to follow through with an historic commitment to offshore wind power that will create jobs, grow our economy and safely and reliably power Long Island.”

The Deepwater ONE project would be the nation’s first 1,000 megawatt offshore wind farm, providing electricity to LI and New England. Plans call for 150 to 200 wind turbines within a 256-square-mile site more than 30 miles from Montauk, roughly 10 miles east of Block Island and about 15 miles southwest of Martha’s Vineyard. The project would produce enough electricity to power 150,000 LI homes and meet peak power demand without burning more fossil fuels, according to the advocates’ estimates.

At the meeting, Assemb. Steve Englebright (D-East Setauket) brought a letter addressed to Cuomo that was signed by 14 Republican and Democratic members of the Island’s Assembly delegation to show “our strong support for offshore wind power generation for Long Island.”

Engelbright pointed out that wind power “perfectly complements” PSEG’s announced long-range goal of relying more on “clean, renewable energy production” in the future as well as enabling the state to meet its own renewable energy goals to reduce carbon emission 50 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050.

The project’s proponents urged the Cuomo administration to ensure that LIPA approve Deepwater Wind’s Deepwater ONE proposal, which is now under consideration, “no later than December 2014.”

The demonstration was timed to coincide with the final LIPA Board of Trustees public hearing before they vote in December on the renewable energy “Request for Proposal,” as part of Gov. Cuomo’s LIPA reorganization legislation.

“We look forward to working with your administration to bring about a better energy future by realizing the great potential of offshore wind power on Long Island,” said the Assembly members.

In a separate letter supporting Deepwater ONE, Assemb. Fred Thiele (I-Bridgehampton) wrote that the East End faces “unique energy and economic challenges” in the coming years, but it can’t depend on the existing electricity grid to be sufficient, given its present limitations. He welcomed the new energy supply promised by the offshore wind turbines because it could meet the current challenge as well as future demands. The project has another advantage as well, the Assemblyman pointed out.

“As the only offshore wind development near Long Island to have completed the necessary federal leasing process, Deepwater Wind’s project has the unique ability to be in service many years before other projects, ensuring that Long Island will be at the forefront of the U.S. offshore wind industry,” he said.

Not only would the project create hundreds of jobs based on the Island, Thiele added,  it would also “establish the infrastructure and skilled labor force necessary to give Long Island a long-term competitive advantage in the offshore wind industry.”

At the meeting, energy conservation groups presented LIPA and the Department of Public Service with petitions signed by more than 20,000 people, urging that LIPA follow through on its commitment to invest in 280 megawatts of new renewable energy this year. And that commitment is part of a broader goal already on the table, as explained by Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island.

“When PSEG took over LIPA, Governor Cuomo and the Legislature assured Long Islanders that plans for 400 megawatts of renewable power projects already under consideration would not be abandoned,” Raacke said. “We now call on the governor, LIPA and PSEG to deliver on that promise by selecting the full amount of offshore wind power and solar farms under the current 280 megawatt RFP.”