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Queens Chronicle

Offshore wind initiative moves forward

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Posted: Thursday, March 26, 2009 12:00 am

Long Island Power Authority President and CEO Kevin Law and Consolidated Edison Chairman and CEO Kevin Burke have announced their public-private partnership is moving forward with plans for a new study on a major offshore wind farm.

A joint feasibility study released Monday by the two utilities concluded that an interconnection of up to 700 megawatts of wind power, located at least 13 miles off the Rockaway peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean, would be feasible with upgrades to their respective transmission systems.

The proposed “LIPA/Con Edison Offshore Wind Farm” would likely be designed for 350 megawatts of generation, with the ability to expand it to 700 megawatts, giving it the potential to be the largest offshore wind proposal in the country.

The concept for the offshore wind project emanates from Gov. David Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force and is consistent with his “45 by 15” program, which establishes a goal for the state to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and renewable sources by the year 2015.

LIPA and Con Edison have also filed an application to interconnect the offshore wind project with the New York Independent System Operator for up to 1,400 megawatts by 2020, which would permit a future expansion beyond the 700 megawatts.

“As a state and as a nation, we must find alternative solutions to traditional fossil fuel sources,” Paterson said. “By taking advantage of the natural resources that New York has to offer, we will position ourselves to be the national leader in renewable and alternative energy as our economy emerges from the current crisis.”

The preliminary analysis, which demonstrates a large offshore wind project can work within the service area is encouraging to Law. “I remain committed to not only continue with the next phase of the process, but also to bring this wind project to fruition if we can make it cost effective for our customers,” he said.

Burke also pledged his commitment to helping the state meet its renewable energy goals. “An offshore wind farm would be an exciting project for New York, and we will work closely with federal, state and municipal leaders to move this process along in a responsible way,” he said.

The formation of the LIPA and Con Edison interdisciplinary working group was announced by the governor last fall with a goal of studying, among other things, suitable locations for an offshore wind project, transmission and interconnection capabilities, and the availability of wind as an energy source.

As the second phase begins for the wind project, LIPA and Con Edison will work with the state, the New York Power Authority, New York City, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to issue a request for expressions of interest for off-shore wind development.

The RFEI serves as a precursor to a Request for Proposals to be issued later this year. It is anticipated that other interested state and city agencies will be invited to participate in the project’s next phase and the RFP process.

Additional next steps include the creation of a joint LIPA/Con Edison website to keep the wind industry, communities and stakeholders informed of the project’s progress; and working with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority to develop a meteorological tower to assess wind strength in the proposed project location.

In addition, both utilities will begin another round of due diligence that will concentrate on the economics and feasibility of the actual offshore wind farm. That will include determining if there are sufficient wind resources to meet the scope of the project, a bird study, further environmental and community impact studies, economic costs and the potential number of jobs the project could create.

A copy of the interconnect study can be found at lipower.org or coned.com.

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