Months after the Long Island Power Authority gave the thumbs down to a controversial 40-turbine wind-farm off the coast of Jones Beach, a Hauppauge company has begun submitting applications for a project in a similar location that will be four times larger and farther out at sea.
The company, Winergy Power, could avoid much of the controversy engendered by the LIPA project by locating its 167 turbines 15 to 18 miles off shore, where it says visibility of the giant structures will be limited. The rejected LIPA wind-farm would have put turbines 3.5 to 5 miles from the coast.
Winergy plans to address a more fundamental criticism by funding the project entirely through outside investment firms and by skirting connection to the LIPA grid.
Winergy president Dennis Quaranta said the company will instead seek to connect the 600-megawatt wind-farm to a Con Edison substation in New York City. It applied for the connection in November to the New York Independent System Operator.
Winergy has been an increasingly visible presence at local wind-energy forums and hearings in the years since the LIPA project was introduced. More recently, Winergy filed federal applications to erect three test wind-turbines off the coast of Plum Island, and plans to be operating them by 2009. Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about that project’s potential impacts on nesting birds.
The Plum Island plan would allow Winergy to test its so-called mobile self-installing platform technology, which it says allows for placement at deeper ocean depths with less impact on the environment.
One organization that strongly opposed the LIPA project said it was “guarded” about Winergy’s new plans. “We will look at it very, very closely,” said Walter Arnold, director of Save Jones Beach, a local watchdog group.
Added Richard Schary, a North Bellmore environmental activist, “The fact that they’re going to impact Jones Beach to benefit New York City is a slap in our face after what we just went through” with LIPA.
Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, another LIPA wind-farm critic, said the new Winergy plan “at first blush seems like it could have some advantages” over LIPA’s because of private funding and the distant location of the turbines.
Quaranta said the company expects to begin installing the turbines in 2012. It plans to do so in three phases – 55 will go in in 2012, another 55 in 2013, and the final batch of 57 in 2014.
Quaranta said JP Morgan Partners, once Winergy’s major funding source, has been replaced by a group of three investment firms: MSD Capital, D.E. Shaw & Co., and Osprey Partners. Representatives at the companies declined comment or couldn’t be reached, but a source close to one of them confirmed the investments in Winergy.
LIPA chief executive Kevin Law said he hadn’t been approached about the project, but added, “I would like to support a wind project somewhere on or off Long Island,” but only one that “makes economic sense for our ratepayers.”
By Mark Harrington
8 January 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding