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State to procure 2,500 more megawatts of offshore wind power

New York State will seek bids for another

New York State will seek bids for another 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind power. The move follows last year's awarding of nearly 1,700 megawatts to two developers. Credit: Getty Images/Xinhua News Agency

New York State this year will seek bids for another 2,500 megawatts of offshore wind power, along with 1,500 megawatts of land-based renewable energy projects in what the state is calling the country’s largest clean-energy solicitation of its kind.

The new plans for wind, solar and other green energy projects follow last year’s awarding of nearly 1,700 megawatts of offshore wind to two developers, Equinor of Norway and Orsted of Denmark — part of the state’s march toward some 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind for the New York grid by 2035. LIPA has contracted for another 130 megawatts. 

The combined 4,000 megawatts of new green energy, if built, will be enough to power some 1.5 million homes, the state said. The plan includes $400 million in public and private investments for 11 state-selected port facilities to make or stage key wind-farm components, or operate the facilities once completed, said the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which is overseeing the bids. The New York Power Authority will also administer bids for around half the land-based projects. 

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who announced the first two winning bids last year at a news conference with environmental activist and former Vice President Al Gore, noted this year’s more aggressive move into green energy comes “during one of the most challenging years New York has ever faced” following COVID lockdowns. But the move will not only address climate change but “bring significant economic benefits and jobs to the state," he said in a statement. 

Doreen Harris, acting president and chief executive of NYSERDA, said in an interview Tuesday the state expects a “robust” response to the solicitation, given the high interest in New York's bidding process last year and improvements in capital costs that could bring costs and project pricing down further.

“If anything we would expect more robust competition this time around,” she said. “That’s why we’re excited to be back on the street in 2020" seeking bids.

The state’s move comes as the Trump Administration, which must approve leases which are primarily in federal waters, has slowed the process of approving new offshore wind projects by requiring further review for impacts on commercial fishing and shipping, while delaying lease auctions for new offshore wind areas, including off the Long Island coast.

“We have  been extremely clear and have been for two years, as to the need for additional lease areas to sustain our [9,000 megawatt] goal," Harris said. “We very much intend and expect to continue to push” the federal government to open new lease areas “either under the current or a future administration.”

The move also comes as LIPA, which already has a contract for an offshore wind farm to power the South Fork, is moving to reduce its reliance on antiquated fossil-fuel plants, and shift to green energy. Its contract for three large and numerous smaller National Grid-owned power plants expires in 2027.

Former LIPA chief Kevin Law, now president and chief executive of the Long Island Association business group, said the state's latest procurement “should keep our region as the center for offshore wind development and renewable energy jobs for the foreseeable future.”

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