A cross-section of Long Islanders are casting a wary eye at an expansive offshore wind farm proposed for the South Shore, raising questions about its impact on commercial fishing, beach views and electric rates.
Central to all concerns expressed yesterday were the size, expense and need for scrutiny of the project.
“I hope we don’t make a decision based on the fact that it feels good” to support wind energy, said Roger Tollefsen, president of the New York Seafood Council, noting fishermen already are under siege from tighter restrictions and fuel costs. “Anything that takes away fishing grounds is going to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.”
This week, Winergy Power, of Hauppauge, submitted an application to state power regulators seeking to build a 940-megawatt wind farm 12 to 15 miles off the coast near Jones Beach. The project would have 190 to 260 turbines in deep ocean waters.
The expanse of ocean proposed for the farm is “primary trawling areas” vital to Long Island fishermen, Tollefsen said. Any restrictions placed on the grounds because of the turbines “is going to impact on the ability to catch fish for generations.”
State Sen. Owen Johnson (R-West Babylon), who last year successfully led a contingent of legislators opposing the Long Island Power Authority-initiated wind farm, called the prospect of cheaper wind energy from Winergy “highly speculative.”
He said he favors proposals like those discussed last week in the wake of Gov. David A. Paterson’s rejection of the Broadwater natural gas barge that call for more solar-powered projects and conservation. Incentives such as helping people purchase solar panels, he said, are optimal because “they help people directly with their bill.”
Errol Cockfield, a spokesman for Paterson, said the governor believes Winergy’s project should be analyzed like any other, and that “wind and solar are precisely the kind of clean, renewable energy projects that should be embraced on Long Island and throughout the state.”
Walter Arnold, a director of the Save Jones Beach committee, which also opposed the LIPA wind farm, said the group “remains organized” and had a conference yesterday after reports of the Winergy proposal. Of Winergy’s president, Dennis Quaranta, he said, “The guy has not put up a single turbine. Now he’s going to do 300? … I don’t think the economics alone could make it.”
Economist Martin Cantor at the Long Island Economic and Social Policy Institute sounded a note of caution over who would pay for the project, which Quaranta has said would cost less than $2 billion. “Someone will have to pay for it, and that someone is Long Island ratepayers,” he said.
Adrienne Esposito, director of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment and a vocal wind farm supporter, said wind energy must be a part of Long Island’s energy portfolio, “but we need the right plan and the right company. … We’re not going to go with the first plan; we’ll go with the best plan.”
By Mark Harrington
18 April 2008
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding