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Wind-energy companies pitch benefits for LI in bid for contract

At least two companies have plans for green-energy job creation on Long Island, if they are awarded a contract to supply power to the New York grid. 

Another auction for new wind-energy areas off Long

Another auction for new wind-energy areas off Long Island could take place in early 2020, a federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management official said at a symposium in Port Jefferson on Wednesday. Photo Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

Offshore-wind-energy companies that are bidding for a contract to supply power to the New York grid are proposing a variety of Long Island job training, employment and economic benefits to help sweeten their offers.

On Friday, Danish energy conglomerate Orsted announced at Suffolk County Community College campus in Brentwood the tentative creation of the new workforce training center there  for offshore-wind and other green-energy jobs. Orsted’s wind farm, called Sunrise Wind, would be located off the Rhode Island/Massachusetts coast.

The $10 million in Orsted funding for the center is contingent on the company being awarded the lucrative contract to supply some 800 megawatts of wind energy to the New York grid, Orsted said in a statement. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is expected to announce a winning bidder in coming weeks.

Earlier this year, Norway energy giant Equinor disclosed that it had been evaluating locations in Nassau County for a new operations base for its wind-farm proposal, which would be located about 15 miles off the coast of Long Beach. The operations base would employ 50 to 100 workers, the company said, though a location hadn't been finalized. Equinor said it too had been working with Long Island colleges on job-training and research and development projects and proposals. The company's plans are also contingent on being awarded the contract. 

In a statement, Thomas Brostrom, president of Orsted North America, said partnerships like the proposed one at Suffolk County Community College were “absolutely critical" to "achieve our vision of a world run entirely on green energy."

Though the offer is contingent, Brostrom attended the event at Suffolk Community College Friday with labor leaders, elected officials and business executives. All pointed to the need for a trained labor force, including for idled power plant workers looking for jobs in the green economy. Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said wind-energy investments were particularly "important to us because Long Island is on the front lines of the climate crisis." 

Four companies proposed 18 different wind-farm configurations for the NYSERDA bid.

At a wind-energy forum of the Long Island Association Friday officials from three of the proposed projects listed planned workforce development and potential hiring plans if they received the winning bid. Lars Thaaning Pedersen, chief executive of Vineyard Wind, which plans an up to 1,200-megawatt project 85 miles from Montauk, said the company would invest $20 million in grants to help New York businesses enter the offshore wind sector and to educate a workforce at local colleges, including Stony Brook University. Offshore wind in the U.S. could be a $70 billion industry in the coming decade, he said, employing tens of thousands of workers. 

"It's going to be a big thing to get a work force ready," he said. 

LIA president Kevin Law said the region welcomed the new international energy firms and their investment with open arms. "We want to show our appreciation for your desire to invest in our region," he said. 

Another auction for new wind-energy areas off Long Island could take place in early 2020 after the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announces final areas this year, a BOEM official said at a symposium in Port Jefferson on Wednesday. BOEM said it was still uncertain whether the final sites would include two large swaths of ocean previously identified by the agency off the entire coast of the Hamptons. New York State opposes the sites for wind turbines.

Dave Aripotch, a Montauk fisherman who attended the Port Jefferson conference, expressed frustration with the process requiring him to take days off to provide input to further the advancement of what he termed “wind scams,” which he argued will only reduce his access to fishing grounds. "We're only trying to mitigate our losses," he said. 

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