Secretary Zinke: Please Support Offshore Wind, Not “Frightening” Drilling

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Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York has issued a letter calling on US Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to support that state’s offshore wind initiative. The request outlines how leasing at least 4 new wind energy areas as recommended by the State’s Offshore Wind Master Plan will help the region’s sustainability goals. The Plan will generate 800 Megawatts of offshore wind over the next 2 years, support the state’s 2.4 gigawatt offshore wind target by 2030, move toward a goal of 50% electricity from renewables by 2030, and create thousands of jobs.

offshore wind

New York is in the midst of constructing its first 90 megawatts of offshore wind energy, with the objective to procure at least an additional 800 megawatts by 2019. Moreover, the US Department of Energy recently selected the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to head the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium.

In his letter to Zinke, Cuomo calls this “just the beginning.”

The State hopes to develop 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 in a cost-effective and responsible manner. The realization of that goal will enhance the existing labor force and offer New Yorkers benefits in the form of lower energy costs, a more resilient power grid, and a cleaner environment.

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offshore wind
Image courtesy Innovate Long Island

Cuomo implored Zinke to incorporate the federal government to “play a significant role in this success story.” Describing offshore wind as “smarter, cleaner, and safer than the frightening federal proposal to allow offshore drilling,” Cuomo outlined various reasons why reviving the fossil fuel industry is a doomed pathway to US clean energy independence.

  • Oil and gas offshore drilling poses an unacceptable risk to coastal resources and the economy.
  • A spill would threaten 60% of New York State’s population who live along the tidal coastline.
  • Drilling for fossil fuels puts at risk the tens of billions of dollars in economic activity and hundreds of thousands of jobs created by the ocean economy.
  • Trading the coastal ecosystem, fisheries and ports, and marine and other wildlife for greenhouse gas emitting fossil fuels is not timely nor part of efforts to build a 21st century clean energy economy.

“Now is the time for offshore wind,” Cuomo argues in the letter to Zinke. “In New York, we have a unique opportunity to develop offshore wind and achieve our ambitious clean energy goals. I urge you to support our efforts and help us protect our environment for future generations.”

In March, 2018, Cuomo announced that his state filed to be excluded from the federal offshore drilling program, claiming that opening up New York State’s offshore for drilling risks its tourism and fishing industries. New York stated that its ocean economy generates $11 billion in wages and contributes $23 billion in gross domestic product. The state, he said, would stand to lose nearly 320,000 jobs and billions of dollars in tourism and fishing industry if it were not granted an exemption.

The July 2018 letter to Zinke ended with an optimistic look to the future in which New York State and the federal government work together on the “next, vital steps” that confirm the most optimal locations for developing wind energy areas in the New York Bight. The New York Bight region represents an area of shallow waters between Long Island (to the north and east) and the New Jersey coast (to the south and west). The four Call Areas include 222 whole OCS blocks and 172 partial blocks and comprise approximately 2,047 square nautical miles (nmi) (702,192 hectares).

offshore wind

NYSERDA Clean Energy Plans Also Include Li-ion Supercell Technology, EV Charging Stations, and More

Cuomo’s plan toward 50% electricity from renewables by 2030 has many facets.

In June, 2018, New York State awarded Cadenza Innovation funding for a demonstration project featuring Li-ion supercell technology, a standalone system that includes a rack-mounted 200kWh, 50kW battery storage unit. The project is part of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) drive to pursue nation-leading clean energy goals, including Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s energy storage target of 1500 megawatts in New York State by 2025. As the pioneering provider of energy storage solutions for license to lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery manufacturers, Cadenza Innovation offers unique cell design that combines the best properties from wound jelly rolls and large prismatic cells. That allows for high energy density at low cost for EV, PHEV, and grid markets.

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) administers the Electric Vehicle Accelerator initiative, which was created to help municipalities build EV ecosystems. Tompkins County has partnered with local organizations and businesses as part of the EV charging stations project. Now that the installations are complete, Tompkins County moves into the next phase of the pilot to disseminate information about EVs at local events, host ride and drives, and meet with officials from municipalities to discuss EV friendly policies.

The State of New York is incentivizing building developers, commercial and institutional building owners, and residential households to pursue building improvements that reduce energy consumption. Governor Cuomo will also direct the Public Service Commission (PSC) to ensure that a substantial slice of the new energy efficiency activity result in programs to provide for low- to moderate-income residents. Energy efficiency already provides a significant share of New York State’s clean energy economy, with more than 110,000 residents employed in energy efficiency-related jobs. To further develop energy efficiency measures, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will commit an extra $36.5 million to train nearly 20,000 new employees for energy efficiency jobs.

Comments from Cuomo on Ocean Energy Management Included in Offshore Wind Letter to Zinke

The Governor’s letter also enclosed the State’s comments on the Department of Interior Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s Call for Information and Nominations, which closed in July.

New York submitted the comments supporting the identification of the most optimal future wind energy areas in the New York Bight, supported by the State’s Offshore Wind Master Plan and its 20 supporting studies published earlier this year. This submission was the result of nearly three years of in-depth analysis, stakeholder outreach, and scientific study — which Cuomo said was “an effort and investment New York has been proud to make for its clean energy future.”

The comments supported New York State’s clean energy long-term vision and sought for support “in order to allow for robust and cost-effective wind energy development that can meet the region’s objectives.”

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Carolyn Fortuna

Carolyn Fortuna, PhD, is a writer, researcher, and educator with a lifelong dedication to ecojustice. Carolyn has won awards from the Anti-Defamation League, The International Literacy Association, and The Leavey Foundation. Carolyn is a small-time investor in Tesla and an owner of a 2022 Tesla Model Y as well as a 2017 Chevy Bolt. Please follow Carolyn on Substack:

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