Bluewater Wind, a finalist in the bidding to erect a wind farm in the waters off Jones Beach, is considering reviving its proposal after a three-year delay by the Long Island Power Authority to complete a contract with the winning bidder, FPL Energy, say people familiar with Bluewater’s plans.
Representatives of Hoboken, N.J.,-based Bluewater, which this week won a crucial approval in a separate plan to build a 200-turbine wind farm off the Delaware coast, declined to comment on the matter Friday.
But two people in environmental circles said they have heard of Bluewater’s renewed interest in the LIPA project, and one said he supports it.
“Given the success Bluewater Wind has had in Delaware recently, it makes sense for them to put forward a renewed bid,” said Ashok Gupta, senior energy economist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. He said he expects Bluewater to approach LIPA in coming weeks.
Bluewater’s original proposal called for a single row of 39 turbines 6.8 miles south of Jones Beach, according to documents Newsday obtained through Freedom of Information Law filings last year. The array would be 9.3 miles long.
FPL’s project, which has seen cost increases, places turbines as near as 31/2 miles in a smaller cluster off the coast between Jones Beach and Robert Moses State Park.
It was initially bid to cost $356 million to build, but cost increases led FPL to hike the construction costs to more than $600 million, Newsday has reported. LIPA is reviewing the economics of the project, about which chairman Kevin Law has said, “While I support renewable energy, I am not going to do it on the backs of ratepayers.”
Bluewater Wind’s proposal is said to have come up short in the bidding because the delivered cost of energy was somewhat higher than FPL’s, although it is not clear how Bluewater’s project would measure up given the “substantial” increases FPL has since telegraphed to LIPA.
The bidding documents indicated Bluewater proposed a “firm price option” of $117.71 a megawatt hour for a 25-year power contract, along with a 2.65 percent annual increase. The price translates into just more than 11 cents for a kilowatt hour for the energy (including federal tax credits). A 20-year power agreement would increase the price to $123.77 a megawatt hour, and a 15-year agreement would hike it to $137.90. FPL’s initial proposed cost was $94.97 per megawatt in the first year, escalating each year before hitting more than $150 per megawatt hour in the 20th year.
By Mark Harrington
11 May 2007
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