Deepwater Wind, the Rhode Island company that has half completed an offshore-wind energy project off Block Island, is proposing a new 15-turbine project for LIPA that will be 30 miles from Montauk.
Like a previous project it proposed for the Long Island Power Authority, the new 90-megawatt array would be set in a portion of a 256-square-mile lease that Deepwater controls around 20 miles from the mainland off Rhode Island. LIPA rejected the previous Deepwater project in favor of 11 solar arrays.
The new project would deliver power specifically to the South Fork of Long Island, and is being proposed along with two large batteries that could store energy from the wind farm when it’s not needed by the grid, according to Jeff Grybowski, the chief executive of Deepwater.
The project comes in response to a LIPA/PSEG request for proposals for around 169 megawatts of power needed to fill growing need for power on the South Fork. A megawatt powers around 800 homes. Deepwater is one of a contingent of companies that submitted bids for the South Fork bid request.
PSEG Long Island spokesman Jeff Weir said the company can’t comment on open requests for proposals. LIPA declined to comment.
Deepwater’s proposed South Fork project would send energy via a 30-mile cable to a South Fork location that hasn’t yet been specified. The battery storage units, which were offered as separate bids in the project, would have the ability to store 10 megawatts and five megawatts in Montauk and East Hampton, respectively, Grybowski said.
He declined to discuss the cost of the project, but said, “We think that stacked up against the alternatives, including solar and peaking power plants, that offshore wind is by far the most economic choice.”
Cost was a factor in LIPA’s decision last year to select 11 solar arrays over the larger wind farm the company proposed as part of a 280-megawatt renewable energy request for proposals. At issue was the expiration of a 30-percent federal tax credit for wind energy.
Since then, Deepwater has been working to build what is expected to be the country’s first offshore wind farm off the coast of Block Island. The company and its contractors worked through the summer and fall to finish installation of foundations for the five wind turbines, Grybowski said. Work will start up again in the spring, and the 30-megawatt project, which will deliver around 90 percent of Block Island’s energy and bring the island its first electrical connection to the mainland, is expected to be in service by the end of 2016.
Block Island current gets its electricity from diesel generators and must import fuel oil by boat to power them. Deepwater has a power purchase agreement with National Grid to sell energy from the five turbines at 24 cents a kilowatt hour. Grybowski said power from the generators costs as much as 60 cents a kilowatt hour during the peak season.
The Block Island array will sit on foundations in up to 90 feet of water, on piles driven 200 feet into the ocean floor. Laying cable to connect the project to Block Island and the mainland will start in April and be completed in June. Erecting the turbines will start in late summer.