Even the wind costs too much on Long Island.
The price tag is now at $697 million to build 40 massive turbines in the ocean off Jones Beach to provide only 140 megawatts of power, a fraction of what the area uses.
Even though FPL Energy, the winning bidder for the project, would directly pay the construction costs, the company would recoup that money through the rates it charges the Long Island Power Authority. And LIPA ratepayers also would shell out at least another $100 million for cables and other costs to hook the generation into its system. Who pays the costs of dismantling the turbines and carting them away when their usefulness is over is still up in the air.
The high cost of the FPL Energy project doesn’t mean that LIPA should stop considering wind or other ways to harness clean and renewable energy. In the future, turbine costs may come down as the nascent industry improves its technology. And LIPA is already stepping up its efforts to introduce solar power to commercial and residential customers. But LIPA chief executive Richard Kessel’s decision to spend $50,000 on a new study to compare wind energy costs to conventional power might be like tilting at windmills. We’ll see.
5 July 2007
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