A wind turbine near Arlington, Ore. (May 18, 2011)

A wind turbine near Arlington, Ore. (May 18, 2011) Credit: AP

LIPA's plan for a new wind farm stretching from the coast off Far Rockaway to the Nassau-Suffolk border has been delayed at least a year, to 2017, as the authority and its partners await an economic study to determine if they will move forward.

At a New York Institute of Technology Energy Conference yesterday, Michael Deering, LIPA's vice president for environmental affairs, said an economic study begun last year still is not complete, and may not be for months. The Long Island Power Authority's partners in the project, the New York Power Authority and ConEdison, are helping to fund the study and with other preliminary research.

The economic study is the next in a series of hurdles the development group must clear before starting the project. The study was urged by NYPA, which would apply for the lease because LIPA cannot.

Progress on the project, initiated in 2009 with completion set for 2016, also has been slowed by several other major projects and studies on LIPA's plate. One is an exhaustive analysis of the utility's future structure.

"LIPA has a number of things going on right now that are distracting us," said Deering.

LIPA trustee Neal Lewis, executive director of the Molloy College Sustainability Institute, expressed impatience.

"It just seems we haven't made any progress at all," Lewis, who has long advocated wind energy, said in an interview at the conference. "It's frustrating. I don't think it has been given the time and focus that it deserves."

A preliminary economic study found last year that the 350-700 megawatt project, with up to 234 turbines located 10-15 miles offshore, could cost up to $6 billion, but create thousands of jobs for the region.

Deering said another reason for the delay is LIPA's separate analysis of 45 different proposals to supply 2,500 megawatts of electricity from new energy sources. One source would be a separate, privately operated wind-turbine planned for the coast of Rhode Island by power provider Deepwater Wind.

Once the Far Rockaway economic study is done, the next major step will be filing a federal lease application for the long stretch of sea bottom for the wind farm, Deering said.

NYPA spokeswoman Connie Cullen Thursday said the companies are "still in the process of evaluating the economic and environmental aspects" of the project. She noted that NYPA trustees last June authorized NYPA to file the lease application on behalf of the group, but it has not.

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