A pair of state senators from Long Island said Thursday they are against a proposed windmill farm in the Atlantic Ocean because they fear rising project costs would have to be paid by electric customers.
Initially popular with environmental activists, politicians and residents, support for the windmill park has slowly been eroding over cost concerns, as well as fears the pristine landscape of Long Island’s south shore beaches would be permanently altered.
Several years ago, the Long Island Power Authority announced plans to create a “wind energy park” featuring 40 turbines in an eight-square-mile area about four miles south of Long Island, not far from Jones Beach.
Original estimates for construction were between $150 and $200 million. In 2004, FPL Energy, a subsidiary of Florida Power & Light, won the right to build the project with a bid of $356 million, pending regulatory approvals. The latest estimates provided by FPL puts the cost at an estimated $697 million, Senators Owen Johnson and Charles Fuschillo, Jr. said in a statement.
“I remain unconvinced that the myriad costs associated with this proposed windfarm are justified by the project’s purported benefits of reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and improving air quality,” Johnson said.
Fuschillo said alternative energy sources are important to Long Island’s future, “but the cost of such energy must be economically feasible. …the wind farm project is too high a price to pay.”
FPL Energy would pay for, own and operate the turbines, while LIPA would purchase all the power. LIPA would also pay for the transmission line. The senators and others are concerned that Long Island ratepayers would be forced to absorb the higher construction costs in their electric bills.
Another longtime supporter of the project said the price tag is becoming too steep and suggested LIPA consider other options.
“When I heard about the $700-million price tag, I was shocked,” Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island, told Newsday. “I said, ‘This is getting ridiculous. I’m all for renewable energy, but I’m not willing to pay an unreasonable amount of money for it.”
LIPA is expected to release a study on the windfarm proposal in the next several weeks, said CEO Richard Kessel. It is expected to contrast FPL Energy’s estimates with other windfarm projects globally.
“When completed, that evaluation will be released to help guide any public discussions and future decisions regarding the offshore project,” Kessel said in a statement.
LIPA provides electric service to more than 1.1 million customers in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.
By Frank Eltman
Associated Press Writer
9 August 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding