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New York a leader in wind energy, feds say

A wind turbine in the Atlantic, seen on

A wind turbine in the Atlantic, seen on Aug. 4, 2016. Photo Credit: Deepwater Wind

New York is ahead of most other states in wind-energy production and planning, ranking third in small land-based wind arrays and planning for potentially hundreds of offshore wind turbines over the next decade, the federal government said.

In a series of reports released Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy noted the state in 2016 added 13.3 megawatts of small wind-energy installations — arrays of less than 100 kilowatts — primarily upstate.

New York also added 78 megawatts of larger, utility-scale turbines last year, increasing that sector’s total to 1,827 megawatts statewide — 13th in the nation.

Long Island’s handful of land-based wind farms are primarily single turbines on East End farms, including vineyards in Peconic, Mattituck and Cutchogue.

The reports take note of the whirlwind of offshore wind activity around Long Island.

LIPA announced a 90-megawatt project off the coast of Rhode Island last year, and Norwegian-based energy company Statoil is planning a 1,000-megawatt array off Long Island’s coast.

“When you look at the state of New York it has been a leader in all aspects of wind,” Jose Zayas, director for the Wind Energy Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Energy Department, said in an interview.

He cited state incentives, a strong wind source and economics as the primary drivers for the state’s growth.

“It’s a little bit of everything,” Zayas said.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has identified a large study area for other offshore wind installations. Nearly all of it is off Long Island’s South Shore.

NYSERDA has been holding briefings in recent weeks to formulate an offshore wind blueprint by year’s end.

The energy department’s optimism about wind energy is noteworthy as the administration of President Donald Trump has placed greater public focus on development of fossil fuels such as coal.

Zayas said the administration has an “all of the above” attitude on energy, “looking at all these options and letting the market pick” which to advance.

The federal reports make note of the large gains by wind-energy overall.

Led by Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma, the U.S. wind industry added 8,200 megawatts in 2016, accounting for 27 percent of all new-energy additions for the year. Wind now supplies about six percent of the nation’s total electricity.

In New York, a megawatt of wind is estimated to power 360 to 500 homes.

Nationwide, small-scale wind installations produced 992 megawatts of capacity last year from 77,000 turbines in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands.

The report singles out New York as the number-three state for wind-energy projects installed since 2003 using U.S. Department of Agriculture incentives, behind Iowa and Minnesota.

Federal tax incentives for wind power that once covered a third of project costs are set to expire Dec. 31, 2019. Zayas noted, “There will be an impact, the question is how much of an impact?”

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