By Jean Paul Vellotti
HAUPPAUGE ““ There’s a plan in the works that could blow the Long Island Power Authority’s proposed wind park out of the water.
Winergy Power LLC, a privately funded alternative energy company based in Hauppauge, appeared before Suffolk County’s Economic Development, Higher Education and Energy Committee Wednesday to outline plans for a Plum Island test facility and a 200-turbine wind park off Long Island’s South Shore.
The Winergy proposal begins with three 5-megawatt turbines set up at a test facility approximately 12 miles off Plum Island, which is located at the tip of Long Island’s North Fork. After a demonstration period, Winergy would construct a much larger facility 20 miles off the Long Island coast, in waters closer to New York City and northern New Jersey.
Winergy has proposed a research and development partnership with Brookhaven National Laboratory and Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Department for the Plum Island project. Before either project can proceed, though, the federal Minerals Management Service ““ which studies projects affecting the Continental Shelf ““ must grant its approval.
Suffolk County Leg. Wayne Horsley, D-Babylon, welcomed the Winergy proposal. “Winergy possesses more advanced technology than other proposals, so they are able to mitigate ecological and aesthetic disturbances,” the legislator said. “No other party can boast of an entirely privately funded proposal that does not affect the aesthetics of our beach and the sensitive marine environment essential to our fisheries and mariners.”
Horsley said LIPA’s plan calling for 40 turbines three miles off Jones Beach State Park would situate turbines in the middle of a major squid fishery. That project, which would create a maximum of 140 megawatts of electricity, is currently undergoing a public comment period administered by the MMS.
Nicolette Nye, an MMS spokeswoman, said that 1,700 comments have been received so far. The public participation period closes Aug. 21.
Horsley cautioned that before Long Island makes a commitment to the LIPA project, “we need to do our homework.”
“My concern with the LIPA project is that we are going to spend $400 million, which has to be paid by ratepayers, and then LIPA has to pay $40 million to build a power cable, plus $100 million in decommissioning costs which LIPA has to pick up,” Horsley said. “I think you could surely get more energy for $500 million through other projects.”
LIPA and Winergy did not immediately return calls for comment.