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Long Island to Get Offshore Wind Farm

Long Island would get New York state’s first offshore wind farm, a collection of wind turbines off Montauk that could provide energy for 50,000 homes, under an agreement detailed Thursday.

The board of trustees of the Long Island Power Authority, a state authority, is expected to vote Wednesday to approve a plan with Deepwater Wind LLC, which would build 15 wind turbines on a open-ocean site it leases from the federal government.

The farm would be capable of producing 90 megawatts of electricity and would be the largest under development in the U.S. It would be built 30 miles southeast of Montauk, and wouldn’t be visible from land.

Tom Falcone, the chief executive of the power authority, said the plant was “the first step to developing the tremendous offshore wind resource off Long Island.”

While common in Europe, the offshore wind-power generation industry is in its infancy in the U.S. The wind farm would provide a little more than 1.6% of the peak electric usage by the power authority’s customers, an agency spokesman said.

A smaller wind farm 3 miles off Block Island, R.I., that Deepwater is scheduled to open at the end of the year would be the first offshore wind farm in service in the U.S., a spokeswoman for the company said.

That facility is about 15 miles west of the Long Island site, in waters managed by the state of Rhode Island rather than the federal government.

The power produced by the project would cost far more than electricity generated by conventional gas-powered plant, officials said. But on Thursday both the authority and Deepwater declined to provide cost estimates.

Because of falling costs in the industry, the cost of the electricity sold to the authority would be less than the 16 to 17 cents per kilowatt-hour negotiated in other deals, one authority official said. But retail residential rates on Long Island are about half that.

Approval by the trustees will authorize the authority to enter into a contract for the offshore farm. The project will still require a federal permit and environmental review, an authority spokesman said. The plant is expected to open in 2022.

The plan has drawn opposition from the commercial fishing industry, worried about disturbances to prime fish-nursery areas.

Environmental groups on Long Island were more supportive because of the use of clean energy, though some environmentalists worried about the potential impact on whales that inhabit nearby waters.

In a statement, Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged the authority’s trustees to “once again demonstrate New York’s leadership on climate change and help achieve the state’s ambitious goal of supplying 50 percent of our electricity from renewable energy by 2030.”

All transmission cables would be buried, under roads and the shore, and no new aboveground cables would be installed, according to Deepwater Wind.

Under an outline of the plan by Deepwater last December, its project would include two energy-storage facilities, with lithium-ion battery technology designed and installed by General Electric, in industrial zones in Montauk and in Wainscott, another community on the East End of Long Island.

“There’s real momentum for offshore wind in the United States and Long Islanders are leading the charge,” said Jeffrey Grybowski, the chief executive officer of Deepwater Wind.

Bob DeLuca, president of the environmental group Group for the East End, said that for most environmentalists, “the view has been positive based on what we know of the project.”

He said the offshore location was “very attractive” and less likely to affect migration patterns of birds than locations closer to shore. He said concerns remained about plans for “marine mammal protection.”

Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association, said the project would “maim and kill fish” through years of pile driving and laying of cable. She said the bases of the towers would then permanently alter the undersea environment.

“These industrial projects should not be built where things live,” she said. “From a commercial fishing standpoint we are being sold out.”

Beyond Montauk, the federal government announced in June that it was offering for lease a potential wind-farm site about 14 miles east of the Rockaways. A state agency, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, said it was planning to bid on the lease.

2017-01-09 15:32:54

Long IslandOffshore Wind FarmWind Power