Feds Should Align with NYS on Offshore Wind Areas

By Joe Martens

New York State filed extensive comments with the federal Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) late last month and Gov. Cuomo personally called on US Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to “play a significant role in the success story.” (read cleantechnica.com story here).

New York’s comments, which were echoed by NYOWA, urge BOEM to look closely at the extensive data and information submitted by New York State and to adjust the boundaries of the proposed Call Area to more closely align with New York’s “Area for Consideration.”


“Now is the time for offshore wind,” Gov. Cuomo says in his letter to Secretary Zinke. “In New York, we have a unique opportunity to develop offshore wind and achieve our ambitious clean energy goals. I urge you to support our efforts and help us protect our environment for future generations.”


The Governor could not have been more emphatic and robust in his support for offshore wind and in expressing the state’s willingness to collaborate with the federal government to make it work.


“New York's commitment to offshore wind is real and unwavering. … This is just the beginning, as the state strives toward its goal of developing 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2030 in a cost effective and responsible manner. The realization of that goal will create thousands of new jobs and offer New Yorkers overwhelming benefits in the form of lower energy costs, a more resilient power grid and a cleaner environment,” Gov. Cuomo said.


Here's why this alignment is important.


The NYSERDA-developed “Area for Consideration” considered multiple layers of data including fisheries, shipping lanes, water depths, and visibility from the shoreline, to name a few.  The composite of all these factors sought a minimize potential conflicts and provide ample area to economically locate offshore wind farms. This information will help inform the BOEM process and hopefully result in new wind energy areas that are similar to the ones recommended by New York State.


It’s also critical that BOEM establish new wind energy areas by 2019 for the next round of offshore wind solicitations in New York to help ensure robust competition and the lowest possible prices for consumers.


New York is charging ahead with its work and holding up its end of the deal. The state Public Service Commission expeditiously established a framework for New York’s Phase 1 procurement and NYSERDA is on track to seek bids this fall from offshore wind developers to build the first 800 megawatts off of New York's coast.


As you’ve read in this space before, done right, New York's offshore wind initiative could lead to upward of $6 billion in economic activity, 13,200 new jobs and lower electric bills for New Yorkers, primarily downstate where rates are among the nation's highest. These jobs and economic benefits can and should be felt statewide. The environmental benefits will be felt everywhere.

Joe Martens is Director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance and a former NYS DEC Commissioner.

For the latest on offshore wind in New York, follow NYOWA on twitter at @NYOffshoreWind.