Despite National Uncertainty, Cuomo Plans Surge In Off-Shore Wind Power

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.

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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.

Feds Host Public Meeting This Week On NYC/Long Island Wind Project

In the midst of political turbulence, the feds are continuing to plan for what could be the largest offshore wind farm in the country — right in our backyard.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is hosting a public meeting in Manhattan Wednesday night to discuss progress on the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project, which has been working its way through a multi-year review process.

Almost 200 3.6-megawatt wind turbines could eventually be constructed 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula as part of the project. The wind farm could yield as much as 700 MW of energy—enough electricity to power an estimated 245,000 homes.

BOEM is holding a public meeting this Wednesday evening (6/29), from 5 to 8pm, at the TKP New York Conference Center, located at 109 West 39th Street. (The meeting is in the Empire A Room.)

In the last two weeks, BOEM has held public meetings in four states (Long Branch, NJ; Hempstead and Westhampton Beach, NY; Narragansett, RI; and New Bedford, MA) in order to update the public on how the wind farm is progressing and offer additional opportunities for comment.

You can also weigh in on the project in writing — read about the public review process below.

Part Of The State’s Plan To Fight Climate Change

The Long Island – New York City wind project is intended to help New York State reach its goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, relative to 1990 levels.

The project was launched as a collaborative effort between Con Edison, the Long Island Power Authority and the New York Power Authority.

Auctioning Off Development Rights

BOEM is preparing to host a competitive auction where bidders will vie for the lease to develop wind energy in 81,130 acres of federal waters off the New York coast. The agency is also hosting a public seminar this afternoon to describe the auction format and explain the rules to participants.

Wind power is steadily becoming more commercially viable. Other potential wind farm developers have expressed interest in the site off the Rockaways, according to Tracey Moriarty, a BOEM spokeswoman.

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Area off the Rockaway coast under federal review as a possible site for the installation of up to 194 wind turbines. (Courtesy: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)

Developers of the Long Island – New York City project could construct as many as 194 wind turbines off the coast. The wind farm is moving through a four-step review process.

1.) Environmental & Visual Review

BOEM has conducted a preliminary environmental review of the potential impacts of a wind farm in the proposed ocean site.

Read more here about how to submit a comment on BOEM’s environmental review — the deadline is July 6th. 

What sorts of impacts could such a project have? Local wildlife habitats could be disrupted, as could commercial fishing areas.

Another possible impact is visual. BOEM has been studying the impact on views from the coastline of a hypothetical array of 100+ wind turbines measuring 577.4 feet (176 meters) from water level to blade tip, which are configured in a grid pattern with roughly 5,000 feet between turbines. The turbines are assumed to be painted pale gray per Federal Aviation Administration guidelines.

The agency has generated photographs and videos to simulate views of this hypothetical wind farm under various weather conditions and times of day and night. The simulations were generated from a series of “key” observation points.

Public feedback regarding how the wind farm could impact the viewshed for coastal areas of New York and New Jersey will be used by BOEM as it finalizes the exact area of the ocean to be developed.

2.) Auction

A lease to develop the wind farm in federal waters will be issued to the winner of a competitive auction process.

The 60-day public comment period on the proposed sale of leasing rights ends on August 5, 2016. Read more here about how to submit a comment and see feedback on the project from other government agencies.

3.) Final Site Assessment

A site assessment plan will be developed, which involves the collection of more information (e.g., wind speed data, biological data) about the area proposed for development.

4.) Operations Plan & Final Review

The wind farm’s developer will submit a construction and operations plan. BOEM must then carry out a full environmental review of the project.

Wind Farm Off Rockaways Moving Forward After Gas Port Vetoed

The largest offshore wind farm in the U.S. is now one step closer to being constructed off the Long Island/Rockaway coast. Until recently, a natural gas port had been proposed for the same section of ocean. Surprising many, Governor Cuomo vetoed -and effectively killed- the gas project last month.

Less than a year ago, the Cuomo administration banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York as a means to extract natural gas. Similar to the debate on fracking, public opposition to the gas port became part of a larger discussion about New York State’s energy policy and how the state should respond to climate change.

The proposed wind farm is certainly in keeping with the state’s goal of cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050. The farm could create enough electricity to power an estimated 245,000 homes. To do that, almost 200 3.6-megawatt wind turbines -yielding as much as 700 MW of energy- will be constructed 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.

A Lengthy Process

The wind farm, also known as the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project, has been working its way through a multi-year federal review process.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is currently in the Area Identification stage of the review, during which the agency selects off-shore areas for environmental analysis and consideration for leasing. That process will be completed by early next year said agency spokeswoman Tracey Moriarty.

In June, BOEM cancelled four public open houses (in Brooklyn, Long Island and New Jersey) in which it planned to share the results of a recently completed “visualization” study for the project. The purpose of the open houses was to get feedback from local residents on specific locations for the wind farm.

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Helicopter lowering a worker onto an offshore wind turbine in the UK. Credit: National Geographic Stock / Sarah Leen / WWF

Those public meetings won’t be rescheduled, Moriarty told NYER before Thanksgiving, but BOEM will be posting the schematics on its website and welcomes comments and questions from the public. Moriarty could not state exactly when the visualization study will go live, but said it was imminent.

Will the Public Be Weighing In?

There will be other opportunities for the public to comment on the proposed wind farm, Moriarty stated. There are several major stages of review ahead. Moriarty added that the agency was focused on taking all of the various uses for the off-shore area, such as commercial fishing and freight delivery, into consideration.

The wind farm will be located in federal waters, hence BOEM’s management of the process. The state of New York will most likely be purchasing the power. Con Edison, the Long Island Power Authority and the New York Power Authority have formed a public-private partnership to advance the project.

Dayle Zatlin, a spokeswoman for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told NYER this summer that the state wanted “to be able to talk to the federal government about all the ways that it [the wind farm] will impact New York [e.g., jobs, environment, and visual impacts] before we do public hearings.”

Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Gas Facility: “The Reward Was Not Worth The Risk”

After years of opposition from environmental groups, citizens, and local officials, Governor Cuomo announced today that he has officially vetoed the Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas project. The facility was proposed by Liberty Natural Gas off the shores of New York and New Jersey.

“The reward was not worth the risk and we’re going to veto the Port Ambrose plan,” Cuomo said during an event at the Long Beach Ice Arena Thursday.

With his veto, the proposed facility cannot move forward.

A rendering of the Port Ambrose project.
A rendering of the Port Ambrose project. Photo credit: Port Ambrose

The Governor cited a number of concerns that motivated his decision, but seemed primarily concerned with security, both from terrorism threats and natural disasters. Cuomo also noted that the proposed site for the facility overlapped with the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project as well as important commercial fishing grounds.

Liberty Natural Gas has not yet published a response.

View the full text of the Governor’s letter to the U.S. Maritime Administration here.


From the Governor’s office:

Governor Cuomo Vetoes Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Project

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today vetoed the Port Ambrose Liquefied Natural Gas Deepwater Port, citing security and economic concerns along with the potential to negatively impact off-shore wind development. The project, which had been proposed by Liberty Natural Gas, LLC, required approval from both Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Christie under the federal Deepwater Port Act. Governor Cuomo detailed his full position in a letter sent today to the U.S. Maritime Administration.

“My administration carefully reviewed this project from all angles, and we have determined that the security and economic risks far outweigh any potential benefits,” said Governor Cuomo. “Superstorm Sandy taught us how quickly things can go from bad to worse when major infrastructure fails – and the potential for disaster with this project during extreme weather or amid other security risks is simply unacceptable. Port Ambrose would also hinder the local maritime economy in a way that negatively impacts businesses throughout Long Island, and that is simply unacceptable. This is a common-sense decision, because vetoing this project is in the best interests of New Yorkers.”

The Deepwater Port Act requires approval from the governor of each adjacent coastal state before a deepwater port license is issued. For the Port Ambrose project, both New York and New Jersey are adjacent coastal states.

The Governor’s review found that the project posed inherent and unanswered security risks to the region. The potential for catastrophic impacts during extreme weather events was also found to be unacceptable. Additionally, the project posed significant disruptions to commercial and recreational maritime activities, and would also have interfered with a critical off-shore wind power project proposed by the New York Power Authority.

Fate of Port Ambrose Gas Facility Will Be Decided by Cuomo and Christie

The final decision on Port Ambrose, a natural gas facility slated for ocean waters off the coast of Long Island, has now moved to the desks of Governors Christie and Cuomo.

By December 21, the two governors must decide if they will approve, veto, or modify the project. If either governor vetoes, the project will not proceed; if neither acts, it will move forward as designed.

The Port Ambrose facility, which consists of a series of pipelines and underwater buoys, is sited roughly 18 miles south of Long Island and 28 miles east of New Jersey. If built, large ships carrying liquified natural gas would dock at the station where the product would be re-gasified and shipped, via underwater pipeline, to the New York mainland.

Serious Questions

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stand side by side during a press conference in New York.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stand side by side during a press conference in New York. Photo credit: Andrew Burton/Getty

Despite intense public interest surrounding the project, the governors have remained surprisingly silent on their decision.

In October, Cuomo spoke briefly to a reporter from Capital New York about Port Ambrose; it was the first time he had spoken at any length about it.

“The question now goes to the states, New Jersey and New York,” Cuomo said. “There are a lot of serious questions that would have to be answered before approval certainly, because it does bring up a number of obvious security and safety issues.”

Governor Christie has been even more tightlipped, leaving only his past actions from which to draw conclusions.

In 2011, Christie opposed an alternate deepwater natural gas port sited 16 miles off the coast of Asbury Park.

That same year, Christie told an environmental group that he did not believe there was an economic need for liquified natural gas facilities that could come close to balancing environmental risks.

“My opposition to this will continue for as long as I’m governor,” he said.

An Ongoing Battle

Hundreds packed the Long Beach Hotel for a hearing on November 2. Photo via Erik McGregor.
Hundreds packed the Long Beach Hotel for a hearing on November 2. Photo via Erik McGregor.

Opponents of the project say it poses significant security and environmental threats to the region. It is also sited for the same location as the proposed Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project.

Opinions differ over exactly how much the port would encroach on the wind farm area. According to a March, 2015 letter by the New York Power Authority, the total wind farm area lost to Port Ambrose would be “a minimum of 13 percent and could be as much 20 percent.”

Supporters of the Port Ambrose project say it will provide needed natural gas supply to areas that have experienced shortages and price volatility.

Federal regulators released the final Environmental Impact Statement in October of this year, and four days of public hearings followed in early November. Written comments from the public will be accepted through November 30.

Public meetings cancelled but NYC – Long Island offshore wind project still moving ahead

This story was updated at 1:30pm on June 9th, after being published earlier in the day.

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The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has cancelled four public open houses this week (in Brooklyn, Long Island and New Jersey) for what could be the largest offshore wind farm in the United States.

The purpose of the open houses was to share the results of a recently completed “visualization” study with area residents, and get their feedback on a specific location for the wind farm.

The Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project has been working its way through a multi-year federal review process. If everything goes as planned, almost 200 3.6-megawatt wind turbines -yielding as much as 700 MW of energy- will eventually be constructed 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.

BOEM cancelled the meetings “in response to concerns raised by the State of New York,” said agency spokeswoman Tracey Moriarty in a group email. “Because of the importance of this issue, we want to allow for additional coordination between the state and the federal government,” she added.

We spoke with Moriarty today and she stressed that the feds “are continuing with our planning” for the project.

An Issue of Coordination

Dayle Zatlin, a spokeswoman for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, told NYER that the state wanted “to be able to talk to the federal government about all the ways that it [the wind farm] will impact the state [e.g., jobs, environment, and visual impacts] before we do public hearings.”

The wind farm will be located in federal waters, hence BOEM’s involvement, but the state wants to be involved, Zatlin said. “Not to mention,” she added, “New York State would most likely be buying the power.”

The public meetings will be rescheduled, she said. NYSERDA is “looking forward to working with BOEM and providing opportunities for public input in the process.”

While NYSERDA promotes wind generation throughout New York, the Long Island – New York City offshore wind farm would ultimately be installed by Con Edison, the Long Island Power Authority and the New York Power Authority, which have formed a public-private partnership to advance the project.

The wind farm could create enough electricity to power an estimated 245,000 homes.

 

Is the Largest Offshore Wind Farm in the U.S. Coming to New York City and Long Island?

Described as what could be the largest offshore wind farm in the United States, the Long Island – New York City Offshore Wind Project is working its way through a multi-year federal review process. If everything goes as planned, almost 200 3.6-megawatt wind turbines will eventually be constructed 13 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.

Now’s your chance to see what the project could actually look like.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is hosting four public open houses (in Brooklyn, Long Island and New Jersey) to share the results of a recently completed “visualization” study. They are asking for the public’s input on “our renewable energy planning efforts in Federal waters on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore New York.”

The Long Island – New York City wind farm could yield as much as 700 MW of energy—enough electricity to power an estimated 245,000 homes. The project is a collaborative effort between Con Edison, the Long Island Power Authority, and the New York Power Authority.

Could the New York project become one of the world’s largest wind farms?

The New York project has the potential to rival the London Array, currently the world’s largest operational offshore wind farm, which opened in July 2013. Located 13 miles off the Kent coast in the outer Thames Estuary, the Array’s 175 turbines can generate enough energy to power nearly half a million UK homes, reducing CO2 emissions by more than 900,000 tons annually.

Now capable of producing 630MW of electricity, the London Array was supposed to be expanded by another 370MW. Phase 2 of the project has stalled due to environmental, logistical and financial issues, states the project’s website.

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The London Array under construction. Photo credit: Go Green

What’s In Store for New York?

The Long Island – New York City wind project is intended to help New York State reach its goal of reducing the state’s greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050, relative to 1990 levels.

Wind power is steadily becoming more commercially viable. Tracey Moriarty, a BOEM spokeswoman, told NYER earlier this year that other potential wind farm developers have expressed interest in the site off the Rockaways.

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Area off the Rockaway coast under federal review as a possible site for the installation of up to 194 wind turbines. Photo credit: U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management

Developers of the Long Island – New York City project plan to construct 194 wind turbines off the coast. What sorts of impacts could such a project have?

One possible impact is visual. During the BOEM open houses in June, panoramic photographs and short videos will be shown that simulate the New York wind power project under various weather conditions and times of day and night. The simulations were generated from a series of key observation points, says BOEM.

Public feedback regarding how the wind farm could impact the viewshed for coastal areas of New York and New Jersey will be used by BOEM as it finalizes the exact area of the ocean to be developed.

The public can stop in at any time during the BOEM open houses:

Monday, June 8 from 6 – 8 pm
Floyd Bennett Field
50 Aviation Road
Brooklyn, NY 11234

Tuesday, June 9 from 6 – 8 pm
Watch Hill Ferry Terminal
150 West Avenue
Patchogue, NY 11772

Wednesday, June 10 from 6 – 8 pm
Sandy Hook Chapel
35 Hartshorne Drive
Highlands, NJ 07732

Thursday, June 11 from 6 – 8 pm
Freeport Recreation Center
130 East Merrick Road
Freeport, NY 11520

The Long Island – New York City wind project: a four-step process.

The New York wind farm is at the beginning of a lengthy public review process.

First, BOEM must conduct a preliminary environmental review of the potential impacts of a wind farm in the proposed ocean site. The public will be able to submit comments as part of the review.

Second, a lease to develop the wind farm in federal waters is issued to the winner of a competitive auction process.

Third, a site assessment plan is developed, which involves the collection of more information (e.g., wind speed data, biological data) about the area proposed for development.

And finally, the wind farm’s developer submits a construction and operations plan. BOEM must then carry out a full environmental review of the project.