TODAY'S PAPER
60° Good Afternoon
60° Good Afternoon
Long Island

Study: Wind farm could cost up to $4.67B

A joint plan for a wind farm on

A joint plan for a wind farm on Long Island's South Shore could cost as much as $4.67 billion, a study says. (Feb. 3, 2009) Photo Credit: Los Angeles Times/Ricardo DeAratanha, 2009

The New York Power Authority Thursday filed a preliminary application to lease federal waters off the South Shore of Long Island for a wind farm that is expected to cost between $2.34 billion and $4.67 billion, according to new estimates.

NYPA, which is partnering with Con Edison and LIPA on the project, had delayed applying for the lease until completion of a feasibility study. The study, dated Nov. 1 but released Thursday, said the completed project, if finished in two phases of 350 megawatts each, could add $3 billion in sales and $1 billion in wages to the regional economy. Newsday reported on the study last year.

The Long Island Power Authority, which conceived the project two years ago, cannot apply for the lease because its bylaws prevent it from being a lease holder on federal waters.

The economic study said the project, if built at its phase-one 350 megawatts, would cost $6.68 million per megawatt, or $2.34 billion -- and just under double that number at 700 megawatts. Both estimates include land-based electric system upgrades that alone would cost between $415 million and $821 million, the study said.

The study estimates the project would have a significant economic impact on the region, adding between $450 million and $900 million in sales to the economy during the construction phase alone. The study estimates construction will take three years.

In addition, the study says, 2,300 to 4,700 new jobs paying between $170 million and $330 million will be realized during construction. Longer term, 85 to 170 jobs would be created during the 20-year operational phase.

The total economic impact is estimated to be between $1 billion and $3 billion in sales, and $610 million to $1 billion in wages.

The study assumes that turbine production, installation and interconnection will be done by firms outside the region because turbine makers and installers currently are not found here. Construction of undersea foundations, however, could benefit local contractors. The wind farm will require between 97 and 194 turbines, each rated at 3.6 megawatts. Towers will be located 13 to 15 miles from the coast, visible from Jacob Riis National Park in Queens to Robert Moses, albeit faintly, according to a simulation tool released by the utilities. Turbine towers are 328 feet high, and rotation blades have a diameter of 413 feet.

Though the study provides figures to determine the project's total costs, it doesn't say how it would impact customer bills. Wind farms, like all renewable energy projects, generally add a "green premium" to the cost of energy, which is favorably weighed against fossil-fuel sources because of renewables' health and environmental advantages. The state has a goal of getting around 30 percent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2015.

The study also does not say how many customers will be served by the farm in either its 350-megawatt or 700-megawatt forms. Generally, wind farms actually produce around 35 percent of their stated capacity, because wind blows intermittently. The three partners will split that actual production -- 115 megawatts to 230 megawatts -- three ways, as well as the costs.

The project still has a series of hurdles, including federal permits, and LIPA earlier this year removed the wind farm from a needed application from the New York Independent System Operator. LIPA can reapply at the system operator in the future.Numerous studies, including the turbines' potential impact on bats, birds, fish and other species, have not been done.

Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island and a longtime wind-energy advocate, said it was "about time" the project showed some progress.

"In the last couple of years other states have made good progress, moving offshore wind projects forward," he noted in an email. "Hopefully, this will put New York back in the race. We need the energy and the jobs that come with large-scale wind projects like this."

A NYPA spokeswoman didn't immediately provide a comment.

A link to the visualization tool is at edrcompanies.com/li-nyc_offshore.

Comments

We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

Latest Long Island News