The U.S. may lag behind Europe when it comes to generating power from offshore wind farms, but a proposed wind farm off the Long Island Coast would be a big step forward in catching up.
Consolidated Edison and the Long Island Power Authority say they want to build a 700 megawatt in the Atlantic Ocean, about 13 miles off the Rockaway Pennisula. The project would be built in two stages of 350 MW each.
A draft assessment of the project released by Con Ed and LIPA this week said it would cost about $415 million to expand electricity transmission capabilities to handle the first 350 MW phase when built.
The report said a 350 MW farm operating at 30 percent capacity could power 250,000 homes a year. It would displace 400,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking 68,000 cars off the road.
Gov. David Patterson, who has proposed that New York generate 45 percent of its electricity from efficiency improvements and renewable means by 2015, issued a statement commending Con Ed and LIPA for their work. But, it will be a while before anything gets built. LIPA and Con Ed’s next move will be to study the environmental impact and economic feasibility of the farm and to seek interest from developers who would want to build the facility.
As Bloomberg News pointed out this week, it’s not the first time officials have considered offshore wind for Long Island. The authority killed an $811 million, 140-megawatt offshore project in 2007 because cost estimates skyrocketed.
And offshore wind power in the U.S. is, to be charitable, just getting off the ground. New Jersey has accepted a 350 MW offshore project. The much publicized and debated Cape Wind project off Nantucket may finally be headed for construction as well. Developers are turning their eyes toward the Great Lakes as a source of offshore wind power.
Projects in Denmark, Portugal and grand plans elsewhere put Europe well ahead here. But it looks like finally, offshore projects are gaining a foothold in the U.S. wind industry. The project also represents another step forward for Con Ed, which recently announced plans for a solar pilot program in New York City.
Photo credit: Keith Marshall’s Flickr stream, via a Creative Commons License.
See also: Long Island Solar Campaign through 1BOG
Dave has over a decade of experience in journalism covering a wide variety of topics. He spent 7 years on the business beat for the Rochester (N.Y) Democrat and Chronicle, covering technology issues including the state's growing green economy. When he's not writing, you'll find Dave enjoying his family, being a bit of a music snob, and praying that the Notre Dame football team can get its act together. He lives in Rochester.