A plan released by New York state officials calls for a first stage of 800 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind to grow three-fold by 2030, with the potential for $6 billion in investment and 5,000 new jobs.
The 60-page master plan by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) identifies more than one million acres off New York and New Jersey as the “area for consideration” for future arrays of hundreds of turbines.
Two major blocks of ocean outlined in the report are in the middle of the New York Bight, that right-angle corner of the U.S. East Coast that has some of its busiest shipping lanes and fishing areas — along with myriad other uses, from undersea telecom cables to sand and gravel mining and beach tourism.
The report asserts that wind energy can be effectively and safely added to the mix, based on 20 studies commissioned by New York.
As a ground rule, state officials set a minimum distance of 20 miles for the area for consideration to makes sure “for the vast majority of the time, turbines would have no discernable or visible impact for a casual viewer on the shore,” the report noted. The prospect of seeing wind turbines looming in the distance was a deal killer for earlier proposals off Long Island’s seaside resort communities.
The area outlined in the study “presents, on balance, the fewest overall conflicts with ocean users, natural resources, infrastructure, and wildlife.” The NYSERDA paper promises “the state has launched a comprehensive planning process to minimize the negative impacts of offshore wind development in a concerted effort to protect our treasured marine environment and critically important activates like fishing, boating, and shipping that buoy our regional economy.”
Cuomo has committed $15 million to NYSERDA for workforce training in the offshore wind industry, and to develop port infrastructure. The agency is working with Empire State Development and other state agencies to pick out the most promising investments. One state study group has predicted the industry could grow to 2,000 jobs in operations and maintenance, 2,700 jobs in manufacturing, and 350 jobs in project management and development.
NYSERDA’s planning process has won support environmental groups that oppose the Trump administration’s recent moves to open the outer continental shelf to more oil and gas exploration. But the state’s offshore wind push is generating fierce opposition from commercial fishermen, who are already pushing back against the Deepwater Wind South Fork Wind Farm plan for 15 turbines producing 90 MW off southern New England.
Fishing advocates question the effects of pile driving, cable plowing and electrical fields on marine life and habitat. In a press statement after the state report was released, Bonnie Brady of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association brought up the fishermen’s objection that offshore wind developments are driven more by the financial opportunity of renewable energy credit pricing and government tax credits than need for new power.
“Through eminent domain, they are taking away historic fishing grounds and now they are destroying it in the name of green energy,” said Brady. “The only green here is about making money.”
The NYSERDA paper discusses those funding options in some detail – and how the state plans to address concerns of the fishing and maritime industries.
State officials will set up a maritime technical working group including representatives from the Coast Guard, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the port’s Harbor Operations and Safety Committee, and other commercial and recreational boating interests. That group and a similar collective representing the fishing industry will help develop and implement best management practices to avoid or minimize impacts and user conflicts, the report says.