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Source: Long Island Business News

Forum pushes for offshore wind off Long Island


Posted: July 31, 2012
Originally Published: July 31, 2012

The waters off of Long Island remain among the most promising for wind power, but obstacles such as choosing the proper site, technology and cost remain, those gathered at the Offshore Wind in 2012 forum said today.

The Melville conference brought together about 100 people, including environmentalists and offshore wind proponents, who called it a practical alternative energy resource, not just for Long Island, but nationwide.

Although no project has yet to be built in the United States, offshore wind is being successfully harnessed in Europe. A project off of Cape Cod in Massachusetts has been approved and the federal government is handling permits for many more offshore proposals.

But the waters off Long Island, with relatively low ocean depths, high winds, proximity to a large population and high electric bills, could turn the region into one rich in wind power, although most of the nation’s wind turbines today spin in landlocked regions of the Midwest.

The Long Island Power Authority is considering two offshore wind projects for the area – a 700 megawatt wind farm that is a joint venture between LIPA, the New York Power Authority and Consolidated Edison and Deepwater Wind‘s proposal for a 900-megawatt wind farm 30 miles east of Montauk.

“We’re at a crossroads here. New York and Long Island are making critical energy decisions,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “What will we choose? What will be our future energy on Long Island? We’re making those decisions now.”

Esposito said gas and oil generate 39 percent of the electricity in New York, where nuclear power generates 30 percent, coal generates 10 percent, hydropower generates 18 percent and renewables such as wind and solar produce a meager 2-3 percent.

“It generates pollution-free electricity. It uses locally available energy,” said Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island. “We’re not paying for fuel. It is energy independent, no pipeline required. It comes with its own energy supply from Mother Nature delivered to our doorstep.”

While wind power would provide savings due to the wind as a sort of free fuel, large projects are facing obstacles of cost, which can reach the billions of dollars, and difficulties in finding the proper location.

“The economies haven’t been there. The siting issues have been intense,” said Pete Grannis, first deputy comptroller and former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation. “I think it’s just been one of these things that’s slow to come.”

Still, proponents say improvements in technology will make the turbines, if built, cheaper and more efficient.

“Once you build the thing, the wind is essentially free. There are maintenance costs, but not fuel costs,” said Peter Gollon, energy chairman for the Long Island chapter of the Sierra Club. “Tell me how much natural gas is going to cost a year from now or 10 years from now. This gives us a predictable supply of energy.”