State Offshore Wind Blueprint Supports Wind Farms

Construction is ongoing at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind farm.
Construction is ongoing at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind farm.
Construction is ongoing at Deepwater Wind’s Block Island wind farm.

A plan to locate a giant field of wind turbines in a gusty area of the Atlantic Ocean, at least a dozen miles off the south shore of Long Island, got a major boost when Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the New York State Offshore Wind Blueprint on September 15.

First announced in the governor’s 2016 State of the State address, the plan calls for construction of a large offshore wind farm that could begin operating as early as 2023 — and eventually become a significant source of affordable, renewable power for the state.

The preliminary blueprint, which is subject to revisions, is a first key step in addressing questions of costs, siting, technology, potential environmental impact and other market barriers before a final Offshore Wind Master Plan can be released by late 2017.

“New York is a national leader in combating climate change, and now, we are taking the next big step forward,” the governor said in a statement. “This plan represents the future of New York and will cement our role as a leader in the renewable energy industry for generations to come.”

One often-controversial issue associated with wind farms is that they can be visually jarring and unpleasant to gaze at when introduced into an otherwise unspoiled expanse of ocean vista.

The state blueprint tackles that issue head-on: “Modern offshore wind farms tend to have a limited impact on viewsheds because of their significant distance from shorelines,” it says. “An objective of the master plan will be to further reduce those visual impacts through siting and technology choices.”

New York State officials say they’re scouring a 16,740-square-mile area
of the Atlantic — stretching east-to-west, from Montauk to New York City, and extending from 12 miles to 30 miles out to sea, south of most land masses, all the way to the continental shelf — for potential future sites for offshore wind turbines.

The goal is to develop robust wind-energy generation off the coast, convert it to electricity, and use it to stabilize energy costs in Long Island and the metropolitan area, where sky-high prices have historically proved burdensome to poor and middle-class ratepayers.

Local offshore waters host powerful wind resources, and as a result, state energy officials say, the strategic plan will bolster the governor’s goal of supplying 50% of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy sources by 2030.

“By developing a viable offshore wind energy source, we will continue to provide New Yorkers with clean, affordable power, and lay the foundation for a thriving clean energy economy,” Mr. Cuomo said.

Environmentalists and green-energy advocates signaled their support:

“It brings into focus the vision of offshore wind as a cornerstone of New York’s post-carbon energy system,” said Russ Haven of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “New York is blessed with coastlines close to our major electricity-demand centers, making offshore wind development at scale a perfect answer to the question, ‘How does the Empire State get off fossil fuels?’”