The developers of an offshore wind array planned for 14 miles south of Jones Beach have asked federal regulators to allow them to delay completion of the project by up to two years, until December 2026.
In paperwork filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Norway-based Equinor cited the "inherent complexities of constructing and commissioning New York’s first large-scale offshore wind generating facility." It also cited delays in the "expected timelines for receiving action on key permits and governmental approvals."
When it first announced the project in July 2019, Equinor said the project would be producing power by late 2024. The newer filings said a required June 2025 date would be "impossible."
In a statement to Newsday, the company asserted the filing "does not reflect a change in schedule, but reflects the fact that current regulations do not accommodate the schedules required to build large-scale offshore renewables like wind farms."
Equinor spokeswoman Lauren Shane said a waiver was needed "to stay in legal compliance with current regulations." As for the expected completion date, she said the company "is committed to building Empire Wind and delivering the first power to the State of New York in the most efficient timeline possible."
The project, expected to cost around $3 billion, will deliver all its energy — enough to power some 500,000 homes, Equinor said — to a connection point in Brooklyn into the Con Edison system. The move comes as Equinor announced Monday that it would use 15-megawatt turbines made by Vestas, a Danish wind-industry supplier. Towers for the project will be made near the Port of Albany.
A total of 138 turbines, including for a second phase of the project called Empire Wind 2, would stand 886 feet high, according to a joint statement from Vestas, Equinor and its partner BP.
With a total power output of a planned 2,076 megawatts, the combined projects boast a capacity of powering about 1 million homes. Empire Wind 1 would produce its 816 megawatts with 55 turbines, while Empire Wind 2, at 1,260 megawatts, will require 84 turbines.
New York State also has awarded Equinor a third project called Beacon Wind of 1,230 megawatts that would be built off the coast of Rhode Island/Massachusetts and bring its power through cables under Long Island Sound. Commercial fishing groups have opposed the cable route and the turbines' proposed placement in fishing grounds.
Newsday in September reported that Equinor was reconsidering its original plan to set the turbines on giant concrete foundations, and was instead considering a less costly plan to pile-drive the towers into the subsurface. The latter process poses more hazards to ocean mammals and other wildlife. Piledriving must be stopped if whales, for instance, are detected within a certain distance of the work. Shane declined to comment on reports from fishing groups briefed by the company Monday that gravity-base foundations were off the table.
The Vestas announcement said the turbine towers will be manufactured at a new plant by Marmen and Welcon at the Port of Albany, with components supplied by Vestas. The companies said they expect the plant to be up and running by the end of 2023, using up to 350 local workers. Another "several hundred" jobs will involve staging turbine components before shipment to the offshore wind area off Long Island.
Equinor, an energy giant that has massive holdings in oil and gas, is working on the project with partner BP, formerly known as British Petroleum. A year ago, outside auditors for Equinor announced the company's U.S. operations of primarily gas and oil assets recorded an accounting loss of $21.5 billion from 2007 to 2019.
Separately Monday, Julia Bovey, a former external affairs director for Equinor, announced that she has taken a job with rival Eversource, which is partnering with Denmark-based Orsted for several Long Island offshore wind projects. Bovey, a former director of the state Department of Public Service's Long Island office, serves as Eversource's director of external affairs for offshore wind.