Long Island Power Authority Chairman Kevin Law found out just how tightly held the cost of the proposed offshore wind farm is – even he couldn’t worm it out of LIPA officials at a public meeting yesterday.
In a sometimes-tense exchange at a LIPA board of trustees meeting, Law told LIPA chief executive Richard Kessel that he had received a number of requests to disclose the controversial figure, and requested its release.
Kessel at first seemed to agree to provide it, saying he’d request updated figures from contractor FPL Energy, whose officials attended the meeting. “We will get that within a week or so, and we will make that public.”
When Law pressed him on it, Kessel went on to say some figures had “certainly been reported in the press,” then seemed to argue against the release. “It’s difficult to negotiate a power purchase agreement when you’re throwing out numbers willy-nilly.”
Law ordered them released. “If we have the numbers to give and we’re not violating trade secrets, I want to disclose them,” he said.
Those in attendance were largely silent during the exchange.
Last year, LIPA initially refused a Newsday request for the figures under the Freedom of Information Law. When the newspaper appealed further, LIPA provided outdated figures showing the cost for the 40-turbine windfarm was $356 million in 2004. But the cost had increased “substantially” since then, according to the documents.
FPL told LIPA last fall that the target cost was more than $600 million, Newsday reported in April. A source briefed on the project recently said the target cost was in fact $650 million, with a range of $450 million to $900 million.
By Mark Harrington
7 June 2007
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