While the incoming Trump administration says that it will promote investment in fossil fuels, New York State is planning to head the other way and lead the nation in wind power generation.
In his 2017 State of the State address this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed that New York build 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2030 — including a 90 megawatt project off Montauk, Long Island and an 800 MW project off the Rockaway Peninsula.
The Governor’s office said that the state’s plan is the “largest commitment [to off-shore wind] in U.S. history.” If all 2.4 gigawatts of wind power are developed, an estimated 1.25 million New York households would no longer rely on fossil fuels as their source of electricity.
Cuomo described wind as an “untapped resource” for New York.
“New York’s unparalleled commitment to offshore wind power will create new, high-paying jobs, reduce our carbon footprint, establish a new, reliable source of energy for millions of New Yorkers, and solidify New York’s status as a national clean energy leader,” the Governor said.
New York State Moves Ahead With Transition To Renewable Energy
Ramping up wind power will be critical to New York’s objective that 50 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources by 2030.
Looking further ahead, Governor Cuomo said he has directed the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Energy Research and Development Authority to “determine the most rapid, cost-effective, and responsible pathway to reach 100 percent renewable energy statewide.”
The State Assembly has already passed a bill which would commit New York State to the use of 100 percent renewables by 2050. Environmental advocates are urging the Governor to support the bill.
Long Island To Become Wind Power Hub
By the end of 2017, the state says it will complete an “Offshore Wind Master Plan” for the Long Island coast, which has “some of the most favorable conditions for offshore wind in the United States.”
Cuomo said the state is determined to ensure that all of New York’s off-shore wind projects are both cost-effective and environmentally responsible, and developed in “close collaboration” with local communities. The Governor’s office specifically mentioned its intent to work with fishermen and others in the maritime industries who could be negatively impacted by off-shore wind arrays.
The Governor also promised that the arrays will not be visible from the coast as new turbine foundation technology enables construction in deeper water.
As a first step, Cuomo called on the Long Island Power Authority to approve a 90 MW offshore wind project 30 miles southeast of Montauk. The project has the potential to be the nation’s largest offshore wind farm, and is located in an area that can host up to 1,000 MW of offshore wind power.
According to the Governor’s office, the Montauk wind farm is the “most innovative and least cost way to meet the growing power needs of the South Fork and to provide cleaner energy for Long Island.” Contract negotiations are reportedly close to final, and LIPA will vote on the project at its January meeting.
Governor Cuomo also called on state agencies to ensure that a 79,000 acre site, 17 miles south of the Rockaway Peninsula, is developed to generate approximately 800 megawatts of wind power.
Last month, the international energy company Statoil Wind US LLC bid $42.5 million and won a federal auction for a 25-year lease to develop a wind farm on the Rockaway site.
Using Clean Energy To Grow the Economy
While it is unclear whether the incoming Trump administration will honor this country’s existing carbon reduction commitments, New York State plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieve the internationally-recognized target of an 80 percent reduction by 2050. The state plans to do this by overhauling New York’s energy system (our sources of power, along with the way in which energy is delivered to consumers).
The state sees the transformation of the local energy sector as an economic development tool. According to the Governor’s office, New York has already deployed $5 billion to stimulate investment in clean technologies like solar, wind and energy efficiency.
Over 105,000 low-income households across New York have permanently cut their power bills with energy efficiency assistance from the state. Those savings can then be used by families for other goods and services, and reinvested in the local economy.
The state is also anticipating ongoing job gains in manufacturing, engineering and other sectors related to clean energy, and points to the solar industry as an example of potential growth.
Since the start of 2012, New York has seen a 750 percent increase in megawatts of installed solar. New York’s solar industry is now the fourth largest in the nation and currently employs more than 8,250 workers, an increase of more than 3,000 jobs since 2013.
Can New York lead the country in linking job growth with fighting climate change? And can it do so in the face of federal ambivalence, or worse? Andrew Cuomo is betting yes.
Photo credit: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Mgmt via BOEM