The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority will take over as the state’s lead bidder for a wind-energy lease auction off Long Island’s South Shore, and ultimately to develop a project initially proposed by LIPA and two partners in 2009.
NYSERDA chief John Rhodes in an interview yesterday said the switch would ensure the “best development of that property” at a better price for ratepayers throughout the state.
“We have very high confidence we will get lower project cost,” he said.
Under the NYSERDA approach, the agency will compete to win the lease against as many as two other current developers. If it wins, NYSERDA will then draw up a power purchase agreement and put that contract out to bid to other potential developers. NYSERDA also would conduct needed studies for the project.
Rhodes said the state’s proposed package of the lease and a contract to buy the wind farm’s potential 800 megawatts of energy should prove more attractive to potential developers than bidding on the lease itself, and could discourage bidders to wait for NYSERDA’s bid offering.
Previously, the New York Power Authority was to be the holder of a federal lease for 81,000 acres of water rights to build a 700-megawatt wind farm in two stages off Long Island’s South Shore. The proposal was developed in 2009 under former LIPA chief Kevin Law, and was joined by then-NYPA chief, Richard Kessel. Con Edison was the third partner in the project, which was estimated to cost from $2 billion to more than $4 billion.
But when two other offshore wind developers entered the process, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management enacted a required lease-auction process, after declaring the site suitable for wind energy earlier this year. Local and regional commercial fishing groups have been highly critical of the location, saying it could have devastating impacts on fishing for squid, sea scallops and other species.
NYPA, LIPA and Con Edison on Thursday didn’t raise objections to NYSERDA taking over the work. NYPA chief Gil Quiniones in a statement said, “We are pleased to support NYSERDA as it will now advance what will be a transformational renewable energy project.” A LIPA spokesman declined to comment. A Con Edison spokesman couldn’t be reached.
Rhodes said that the three entities would get the benefit of renewable energy from the project and that it would help each and the state meet Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s goal of getting 50 percent of energy from renewables by 2030.
Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, yesterday praised NYSERDA’s move.
“It sends a message that New York state is getting serious about offshore wind power,” he said of the governor’s renewable-energy goals. “It makes me hopeful it isn’t just talk but they’re serious about making that happen.”