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Gov. Cuomo urges LIPA to OK wind farm 30 miles off Montauk

Deepwater Wind's turbines off Block Island, R.I., on

Deepwater Wind's turbines off Block Island, R.I., on Aug. 15, 2016. LIPA selected a project by Deepwater Wind in July. Credit: AP / Michael Dwyer

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday urged LIPA to approve an offshore wind farm 30 miles from Montauk and said the state would commit to other offshore projects that would place hundreds of turbines in federal waters off the Long Island coast by 2030.

The governor, in his regional State of the State address at Farmingdale State College, said the time was right for offshore wind and the LIPA project would be economical and far from view.

“We have to do big things in renewable energy to get that cost of power down on Long Island,” Cuomo said. “Offshore wind farms work. They can be done right. . . . They don’t have to be an eyesore.”

Cuomo first threw his support behind the LIPA 15-turbine project in a statement in July, when the authority selected a project by Deepwater Wind and declared it to be the nation’s largest. (Several other proposed projects, including one off Jones Beach that the state unsuccessfully bid on, would be considerably larger than the LIPA project.)

LIPA’s board had been scheduled to vote on the Deepwater project in July, but the state asked for a postponement while it prepared a draft blueprint for offshore wind. That report was released in October.

LIPA chief Tom Falcone, at the governor’s address, said the board is expected to take up the contract, which is in the final stages of negotiations, later this month. “We’re very close to concluding negotiations,” he said.

Falcone said Cuomo’s broader proposal for 2,400 megawatts of wind power was feasible. “We’ve made a commitment to clean energy,” he said. And wind power is “now something that’s cost-competitive with other resources.”

Not all are on board with offshore wind. LIPA has said the wind farm and other grid improvements needed for the South Fork would add about $2.48 to customer bills when it’s completed. At the all-electric Leisure Village in Ridge on Tuesday morning, angry seniors protesting LIPA/PSEG’s 5.4 percent bill increase this month urged Cuomo to focus instead on reducing bills.

A megawatt of offshore wind power can provide enough energy for around 320 homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association, an industry group in Washington, D.C.

“I understand he’s trying to do a wind farm to subsidize and assist vacationers on the South Fork,” said Carole Leonard, president of the Leisure Village Assocation. “What about the full-time people who live in the community? We have residents who can’t put food on their table. It’s just gotten insane. Let’s figure out what we’re going to do with [PSEG Long Island] and the rates, and then go on to other things.”

Deepwater Wind is proposing another offshore project to LIPA as part of a second green-energy bid request, a project adjacent to the 90-megawatt project that would bring an additional 210 megawatts of wind power to Long Island. The wind-energy area for both projects is off the coast of Rhode Island, between Block Island and Martha’s Vineyard.

Jeff Grybowski, chief executive of Deepwater Wind, said the company plans to begin needed marine survey work for the LIPA 90-megawatt project in the spring once LIPA’s board approves it.

Kevin Law, president of the Long Island Association and a former LIPA chief, said the bigger commitment to wind could prove helpful now that the state has reached an agreement to shutter the 2,000-megawatt Indian Point nuclear power plant.

But Suffolk Comptroller John Kennedy said the state should only pursue the aggressive wind-power goals if it means stable or lower bills.

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, said Cuomo’s commitment to 2,400 megawatts of wind energy “exceeded my expectations. It’s a big step forward.”


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