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Source: The Indypendent

Long Island Community Groups and Leaders Rally for Offshore Wind

BY PATRICK ROBBINS/SANE ENERGY

Posted: March 24, 2016
Originally Published: March 22, 2016

Uniondale, N.Y. – On Monday, over 100 Long Island community groups and local leaders including Renewable Energy Long Island, Working Families Organization Long Island, Sane Energy Project and the Sierra Club, hosted a rally prior to the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) board meeting. At the event the groups called on LIPA to choose investment in large-scale offshore wind energy projects in order ensure that Governor Cuomo’s goal of sourcing 50 percent of New York State’s electricity from renewable power by 2030 is met. Groups also called on Governor Cuomo to commit to offshore wind projects off Longs Island as a first step in creating a bold long-term, large-scale offshore wind program for New York. During the hearing, the Long Island Power Authority Board of Trustees heard testimony in support for offshore wind rather than investments in dirty fossil fuel plants of the past. LIPA is expected to select projects in May.

“In order to meet his target of sourcing 50 percent of New York’s energy from renewables by 2030, it’s critical that Governor Cuomo commits to a large-scale offshore wind program,” Dan Sherrell, Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign said. “Choosing offshore wind for the South Fork is a crucial first step toward a larger program, which could power millions of homes and create thousands of new jobs for New Yorkers.”

In the last year, East End municipalities have approved a resolution to power that region of Long Island with 100 percent renewable energy by the end of the decade. Currently, PSEG-Long Island (PSEG-LI) has proposed to build expensive, oil-powered plants, commonly called “peakers,” in order to meet a small increase in projected energy demand for this area, instead of considering renewable energy options. However, LIPA and PSEG-LI have the opportunity to invest in a renewable energy future for Long Island by selecting an offshore wind and battery storage project to power the east end, instead of investing in an historically volatile energy market by backing the construction of oil peaking plants.

“The Town of East Hampton has set a goal to meet 100 percent of our community’s energy needs with renewable energy sources,” Larry Cantwell, Supervisor of the Town of East Hampton said. “We will pursue all opportunities for land-based clean energy sources here, but we need to harvest our tremendous offshore wind resource to meet the Town’s and the State’s energy goals.”

Earlier this year, Governor Cuomo committed to cut carbon pollution 40 percent and source 50 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030. However, LIPA’s current energy mix only contains 3 percent renewables. With the adoption of a large-scale offshore wind program, New York has the opportunity to become a regional incubator for a growing industry with the capacity to power millions of homes and create thousands of new jobs for New Yorkers, all while making deep cuts in the state’s climate pollution.

“We are standing at the proverbial fork in the road, LIPA will choose to build a fossil fuel peaker plant on the South Fork or an offshore wind farm with battery storage back up,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said. “One choice can chart a new future. Choose wind power. The time is now, the place is here!”

Beyond stifling the Governor’s efforts to combat climate change in New York, investing in new oil peaker plants for the South Fork would further decrease Long Island’s fuel diversity, subjecting ratepayers to increasing price volatility as experienced in recent winters. Alternatively, developing offshore wind would ensure reliable, affordable energy that creates jobs while protecting our environment.