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Source: Newsday

Offshore wind proponents make pitch to LIPA


Posted: December 22, 2011
Originally Published: December 21, 2011

With three months remaining before LIPA decides on a roster of future energy sources, proponents of offshore wind power are calling on the authority to give the renewable option serious consideration.

At least one large-scale offshore wind energy proposal is among the 45 different projects Long Island Power Authority consultants are considering to power the local grid over the next 20 years.

At a briefing Wednesday by members of a group called Wind Works 4 Long Island Coalition, members from environmental, business and labor groups asked that LIPA give offshore wind serious consideration. LIPA won't finalize the decision on bidders until March and isn't discussing their proposals, which will make up a portfolio of up to 2,500 megawatts of power for the region.

Members said offshore wind will power cleaner, safer energy while stimulating the local economy with investment dollars and green jobs. "We know wind works," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a longtime supporter of offshore wind. "The question today is, 'Where's our wind?' We need 21st century renewable power."

Kevin Law, the former chief of LIPA who is president of the business group the Long Island Association, said the region's "energy challenges are also economic development opportunities."

At LIPA, he noted, he championed a proposal that would have turned the shuttered Shoreham nuclear power plant into a green campus capable of making wind turbines and other renewable power products. He said that would help not only Long Island, but the country, compete with other renewable product makers such as China.

But the members acknowledged the cost of wind energy has been a factor in its slow acceptance. Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, an environmental group, said, "We realize we won't get it up and running if the price isn't right."

A previous offshore wind proposal, eyed for the coast off Jones Beach, was scuttled because of its $800-million-plus cost. A more recent proposal, with Con Edison and the New York Power Authority, has a price tag of $2.3 to $4.6 billion.

One wind-energy company attended the meeting Wednesday in Melville. Deepwater Wind, the Providence, R.I., company that has a proposal for offshore wind energy before LIPA, this fall signed an agreement with Siemens Energy to purchase five, 6-megawatt wind turbines for a small-scale wind farm it is planning off the coast of Block Island.

In a statement, LIPA said it "looks forward to an ongoing dialogue with groups, including the Wind Works 4 Long Island Coalition, on how LIPA can continue to secure our energy future, shrink our carbon footprint, accelerate the economy through new clean energy jobs, and diversify our energy portfolio by incorporating solar and wind on to the Long Island electric grid."