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Senators, expert question LIPA wind turbine plan  

Maria Fazio is not particularly keen on the image of dozens of towering wind turbines off the coast at Jones Beach, but what raised the Bellmore resident’s temperature yesterday was their potential impact on her energy bill.

“I’m not in favor of my energy bill going up at all,” said Fazio, already concerned that Long Island’s rates are among the “highest in the nation.”

Fazio’s gripe with the proposed offshore wind farm was the subject of a call yesterday by an energy expert and two state senators for the Long Island Power Authority to cease pursuit of the project.

At a news conference, all three called on LIPA to instead spend the estimated $700 million in projected construction costs for the 40-turbine farm on projects such as commercial solar installations, solar panels for ratepayers’ homes or overhauling the region’s antiquated fossil-fuel power plants.

“They could use this money to retrofit [KeySpan Corp.] plants in Port Jefferson and Northport, make them more efficient and less polluting,” Sen. Owen Johnson (R-West Babylon) said.

Sen. Charles J. Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick) expressed concern that the cost figure, which has nearly doubled since the winning bid of $356 million three years ago, won’t stop at $700 million.

“I’m estimating this project will be nearly $1 billion by the time it’s said and done,” Fuschillo said. “That’s too high. We collectively say, ‘Enough.'” He called on LIPA chairman Kevin Law to shelve the project.

Yesterday Law said, “I share Chuck’s concerns with the costs of this project and look forward to discussing it with him soon.”

Fuschillo stressed that he wasn’t opposed to wind power or renewable energy. “While I really believe that renewable energy sources have to be part of our future, they have to be economically feasible, and I don’t believe this project will be,” he said.

LIPA has commissioned a study examining the costs of the project and contrasting them with other such projects around the globe. LIPA chief executive Richard Kessel said on Wednesday that he respected the senators’ comments on the matter and believed the study would examine some of the issues. It’s due out in coming weeks.

Calling that study “just another waste of ratepayer dollars,” Martin Cantor, director of Dowling College’s Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute, estimated that energy from the wind farm would hobble ratepayers. He projects wind farm energy will cost around 26 cents a kilowatt hour in the first year – a 400 percent increase over current rates, he said. He projected the cost would rise to 52 cents a kilowatt hour, or 600 percent, by the 20th year of the contract.

Kessel has said the project is essential to reduce the region’s reliance on plants that create gases that lead to global warming, and he has rejected the idea that turbines are an eyesore.

By Mark Harrington

Newsday

10 August 2007

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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