Monday, June 7, 2010

New York considers five Great Lake offshore wind proposals

The state of New York has begun a multi-phase review process for five proposals seeking to build offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes.

The New York Power Authority is expecting to spend six to seven months looking into the projects proposed for state waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario before picking a preferred developer or developers.

The proposals came forward under the Authority’s Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) initiative, launched last December.

The exact size and location for the wind project has not been decided, but the Authority’s original request for proposals sought projects of between 120 megawatts and 500MW in capacity.

Under the current timeline, a preferred developer or developers will be selected in late 2010 or early 2011, before a two-year permitting process is carried out.

Construction for the successful wind projects is slated for a 2013 start, with hopes that offshore wind farms could be commercially operational by 2015 or 2016.

Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer, NYPA, said on Friday: “There is much work to be done before any project can be built and once NYPA’s initial review phase is complete, there will be significant opportunities for community participation in the next phases of the evaluation process.”

The Authority said the five proposals now being reviewed represented a “strong showing”, comparing it to the three projects that came forward for Delaware’s offshore wind attempt and five for New Jersey.

The successful project or projects will enter into a power purchase agreement to sell generated power to the NYPA.

Meanwhile the Authority has been encouraging businesses in the state to come forward if they might be in position to provide goods or services to a developing offshore wind industry in New York.

Companies can register on the GLOW initiative website, where 220 businesses have already listed their availability.

A number of “Get Listed!” events are being organized to help businesses find out more, with one scheduled for June 24 at Syracuse University, and another for July 27 in Dunkirk.

Bill Daily, administrative director and chief executive officer at the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, said: “Harnessing this resource to generate electricity will lead to economic development by the creation of jobs. Many jobs during construction phases, but more importantly high-paying permanent jobs located in our communities along Lake Erie.”

While local politicians and citizens groups are supporting the development of offshore wind in New York State waters, opposition to the installation of wind turbines is also materializing.

Legislatures in Owego, Jefferson, and Wayne Counties have all passed resolutions opposing “the New York Power Authority’s proposals to provide incentives for the siting of wind towers (Great Lakes Offshore Wind project) in Lake Ontario’s eastern basin”.

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