New York Tops NJ with Plans for Offshore Wind

Tom Johnson | July 19, 2019 | Energy & Environment
As Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces most ambitious offshore-wind goals in the country, stage set for competition with Garden State

Credit: Mike Groll/Office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo
Former Vice President Al Gore, left, applauds as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces big offshore-wind plans.
New York yesterday awarded the nation’s largest ever contracts to build two offshore-wind farms, topping the record set by New Jersey in April and setting up a competition between the two states to become the hub of a rapidly growing sector.

In an announcement, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, flanked by former Vice President Al Gore, said he signed what he and Gore termed the nation’s most aggressive law to combat climate change, and backed it up immediately with a procurement for two developers to build up to 1,700 megawatts of offshore-wind capacity.

The two projects, targeted to be providing clean, renewable energy to Long Island and New York by 2024, are part of New York’s commitment to develop 9,000 mw of offshore-wind capacity by 2035, nearly triple what New Jersey hopes to build by 2030. New York also announced other lucrative initiatives to attract the offshore-wind sector to the state.

Cuomo said the initiatives will make New York the hub of this industry, words virtually voiced earlier in April when Gov. Phil Murphy announced the then-biggest solicitation for offshore-wind projects in New Jersey.

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Equinor, a Norwegian company and one of the winning bidders in New York, intends to use South Brooklyn as its operations and maintenance base. Its 816-mw Empire Wind project is located about 15 miles southeast of Long Island in the New York Bight. It’s part of leased acreage where the company sought to build an offshore-wind farm in New Jersey in the spring, but which wasn’t approved by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

The other winner is Ørsted, a Danish company that won a 1,100-mw offshore wind project off Atlantic City in April from the BPU. Its winning bid in New York is the Sunrise 880-mw project 30 miles off the Long Island coast. The company plans to co-locate its North American headquarters and a regional operations and maintenance hub in Port Jefferson, Long Island.

Unlike New Jersey, New York State did not release details of how much the wind power will cost consumers there until final execution of the contracts among the winning bidders and state.

Some environmentalists lamented the idea of New York moving ahead of New Jersey in pursuing offshore wind, and the jobs it could bring to a new green energy economy.

NJ urged to set more aggressive goals

“New York is blowing us away when it comes to offshore wind,’’ said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, who spoke Wednesday at a public hearing urging the state to set more aggressive goals to build offshore-wind farms in New Jersey. He recommended a goal of 12,500 mw by 2035. “While we’re talking, they are moving ahead.’’

Others were more dispassionate. “I don’t think any state can race fast enough to a clean energy future,’’ said Liz Burdock, CEO and president of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “The projects are so big and so complex that New York, New Jersey and other East Coast states will need to work together even as they push each other to higher goals and faster time lines.’’

New Jersey BPU president Joseph Fiordaliso echoed those sentiments. “It is our collective responsibility to combat the impacts of climate change and protect this planet for future generations, and we look forward to working together with New York and other states in the region to do our part to combat the global climate crisis,’’ he said.

New York’s initiative includes a number of elements aimed at attracting the sector’s emerging wind supply chain. It includes $287 million in upgrades to port facilities in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island — and even the Capital Region around Albany, to build foundations for the turbines.

“This is an epic milestone in New York’s tradition of environmental leaderships,’’ said New York Offshore Wind Alliance director Joe Martens. He said the actions taken yesterday could establish New York as the epicenter of a new American industry.