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Queens Chronicle

Wind farm could be built off Rockaways

Joint proposal from area utilities goes before a key federal agency

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Posted: Thursday, October 13, 2011 12:00 pm | Updated: 2:12 pm, Thu Oct 20, 2011.

The Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative has filed an offshore land lease application with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, taking a big step in bringing wind energy to New York City and Long Island.

The New York Power Authority, Long Island Power Authority and Con Edison have all come together to propose an offshore windmill farm in the Atlantic Ocean 15 miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.

With help from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is backing the initiative, the project has finally moved on to the approval process.

“We are massive supporters of this project,” said Dan Hendrick, communications director of the New York League of Conservative Voters. “This is great news for the region.”

Michael Clendenin of Con Edison said “It’s something people have been talking about for a while.”

It is hoped that the offshore windmill farm, though costly, can provide efficient energy for the entire region without further depleting the Earth’s ozone layer.

If the application passes and the project gets running, having a reliable source of energy could even obviate the need to bring in energy from upstate New York.

“New York has fantastic wind resources,” Hendrick said. “It is in the top 10 for wind resources in the country.”

The collaboration is taking advantage of the vast amounts of wind energy, but it comes with a steep price.

The expected cost of a 350-megawatt project, which would power roughly 112,000 homes, is $415 million, while an upgrade to 700 megawatts would cost an additional $406 million.

The offshore wind project, designed for 350 MW, with the possibility of expanding to 700 MW, would become the largest offshore wind farm in the country.

Not all are certain the project would be beneficial, however.

Recently elected Rep. Bob Turner (R-Queens and Brooklyn) said the “efficacy of wind farms might need more study.”

Turner said he wants to see further research on the wind farms off the coast of Europe before the United States puts a great deal of money into funding one here.

Studies have shown that the implementation of the wind farm would displace roughly 540,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to removing 120,000 cars from local roads, according to the collaborative’s website.

An earlier proposal for offshore wind farms in August 2007 off the coast of Jones Beach on Long Island was terminated due to concerns from local groups protesting the close vicinity of the windmills to the shore, coupled with rising technological costs at the time. But the agencies in the collaborative say this one would bring another benefit of greater concern today.

“The project is expected to boost the job market,” said Clendenin. “It is worthwhile and will create quite a few jobs.”

In fact, the collaborative estimates 2,300 to 4,700 job openings once the plan is enacted and the wind farm is set to be built.

As for the danger to birds, another concern with wind turbines, Hendrick said he does not see a problem, as the facility would be far enough off the coast that fly zones for migrating birds would not be disrupted. One major avian flyway goes right through Jamaica Bay.

“They tend to hug the shoreline,” Hendrick said.

If the lease is approved, the project could start as early as 2017, , Hendrick said, adding, “With everyone using cell phones and other forms of technology these days, we’re going to need more energy.”

Welcome to the discussion.