The New London staging area on Aug. 21 for the Orsted's...

The New London staging area on Aug. 21 for the Orsted's South Fork Wind Farm project under construction off the coast of Rhode Island. Credit: Randee Daddona

Long Island will get around half its energy from offshore wind resources by 2030 and customers will begin paying around 2% more per year in their power supply charge as more green-energy makes its way onto the local and state grids by that time, according to a new power-resource analysis by LIPA and PSEG.

The analysis foresees an oversized reliance on an energy source in offshore wind that has yet to make its way onto the local grid as 2024 comes to a close. But LIPA officials say the road map for a quick ramp-up is in place, along with aggressive plans for more solar, battery storage and even technologies that are under development — some that could extend the life of fossil fuel plants.

“It’s basically a handful of wind farms that need to get built” in seven years, said LIPA chief executive Tom Falcone, who added the customer costs were "manageable" and the time frame "not impossible," if somewhat flexible. “If it happens by 2031 versus 2029 it probably doesn’t change anything we’re doing."

The analysis comes as offshore wind in the United States is facing a crisis of cost and as big European wind-farm developers are recording sizable impairment charges tied to their investments while seeking higher rates for energy. Already, Denmark-based Orsted, which is developing the soon-to-be completed South Fork Wind Farm, has canceled two much larger wind farms planned for New Jersey, and it still hasn’t made a final decision on whether it will move forward with Sunrise Wind, a project designed to bring 924-megawatts to Long Island by 2025.


WHAT TO KNOW
• Long Island will get around half its energy from offshore wind resources by 2030, according to a new analysis by LIPA and PSEG.

• As more green energy makes its way onto local and state grids, customers will begin paying around 2% more per year in their power supply charge, the analysis says.

• The analysis comes as offshore wind in the United States is facing serious cost issues.

It also comes at a time of change for LIPA itself. A state commission examining the future of LIPA is expected to release a final report this week on a plan to make LIPA a fully public utility, while the LIPA board is undergoing change with a new chairwoman in former Public Service Commission Tracey Edwards.

On Wednesday, LIPA will also release its 2024 budget, one that could see monthly bills next year could increase by around $19, to $184, officials said.

The power-resource plan, set for release this week, foresees the retirement of around 800-megawatts of fossil-fuel powered plants, impacting facilities large and small around Long Island by 2030, as more offshore wind comes online, and battery-storage units gradually replace smaller plants known as “peakers,” which serve the grid during high-demand summer periods.

Among other findings and projections in the study:

  • An increase in the amount of battery storage on Long Island from a current 10-megawatts to up to 750 megawatts, a plan that would put large facilities of lithium-ion battery barns across the region. The move could prove challenging given recent protests and moratoriums on battery-storage plants after three fires this year, including one in Southampton
  • An increase in the number of solar-power installations and customer-installed batteries across Long Island by 700 megawatts, a dramatic shift from a power source that makes up around 5% of LIPA’s grid, including several large solar farms. The study foresees a large but steady increase in rooftop solar across Long Island.
  • Power imported from off Long Island through electric cables will drop by more than half as a percentage of LIPA’s power needs, from a current 27% to 15% by 2030.

Yet LIPA’s ability to send power to other regions of the state will increase during the period, with the creation of a major state-sponsored transmission project known as Propel New York. LIPA says that with existing cables and Propel, there should be enough cable capacity to forgo the need for any other major cables beyond the region through 2030.

The plan to reduce fossil-fuel power plants will begin to gain steam around 2025, according to the plan, when LIPA begins to retire peaking units in Shoreham, Glenwood Landing and West Babylon. (Some had been scheduled for retirement earlier this decade, but the plans were delayed after large cable failures).

Under the plan, LIPA by 2030 envisions retiring up to 376 megawatts of capacity at the E.F. Barrett power station in Island Park, up to 376 megawatts at the Port Jefferson power station, and up to 387 at the Northport station. The steam unit retirements would shut down the major power producers at Port Jefferson and Island Park, but keep smaller peakers in place as needed. Only one of three steam units at Northport would be retired by 2030, according to the plan, keeping the others available as needed.

LIPA has negotiated lower tax payments tied to the plants, and has the option to extend them for five years beyond 2027, when LIPA’s contract with owner National Grid expires. The plan explores the possibility that power stations subject to plant retirements could be “repurposed” to serve as transmission stations for green energy. LIPA has proposed using the Shoreham and West Babylon sites that now hold peakers for use as battery storage sites.

New York State has awarded contracts for about 8,400 megawatts of offshore wind to supply power to the state by 2030, with 3,600 of that planned for connection onto the Long Island grid. But that may be less than half of what’s needed by 2040 to meet state climate goals.

LIPA’s power plan points to “many development risks,” including requests for increased power prices from developers and opposition to large transmission cables in some communities, as have already been experienced in Wainscott and Long Beach.

The plan foresees eventual success in the shift to a mainly wind-powered grid, noting that “even if one project falls through, another will take its place,” given a large stable of developers and a “large” wind resource. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office is planning a new bid request for projects that requested power-price increases. A $3.3 billion state-backed plan will see an expansion of the cable capacity of the grid to allow more offshore wind projects to connect through Long Island.

Putting so much reliance on offshore wind could stress the system during periods that the report calls “wind-lulls,” which could last up to 24 hours on average about 30 times a year. Lulls of more than 48 hours could happen about seven times a year, with lulls occurring 70% of the time during peak summer months. As a result, LIPA will need “sufficient backup resources to withstand multiday wind lulls,” the report notes.

While the plan estimates that projects already in the pipeline for transmission, solar and battery storage will keep the grid reliable, “significant additional clean resources” will be needed beyond 2030 to meet the goal of fully phasing out plants by 2040.

LIPA’s peak load requirement is expected to grow from by around 1,400 megawatts by 2040, driven primarily by electric cars and heating. About 41,000 LIPA customers have electric vehicles now, the most in the state. The change will necessitate the addition of between 3,000 and 6,000 megawatts of what the report calls “dispatchable emission-free resources and storage,” an amount equivalent to “replacing the existing fleet of fossil-fueled power plants …”

Many of the technologies expected to be used to replace natural-gas plants are a new generation of generators that use “green” hydrogen and biogas, which is made from decomposing organic material. National Grid has announced targets to replace up to 20% of natural gas demand with biogas, and blend “20% green hydrogen and 30% biogas into its networks by 2040.

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