What will happen with the Long Island Power Authority’s plan for a massive wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean? The answer is very much blowing in the wind.
The Long Island Power Authority said its wind project has been removed from a list of those being considered by an organization that oversees the state’s energy markets, although it could easily be added once again.
LIPA COO Michael Hervey at the authority’s monthly board meeting Thursday said LIPA and its partners decided to remove the project from the Independent System Operator’s list of proposals, because it didn’t meet deadlines to advance.
LIPA said it had to demonstrate certain progress to keep the wind turbines, which would be built in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Beach, in the queue with the ISO, a nonprofit that helps manage the state’s energy markets.
Hervey said LIPA hasn’t gone ahead with a lease application or other measures, “pending a more thorough economic analysis.”
He said that Consolidated Edison, the New York Power Authority and LIPA, the partners in the project, “all agreed that the task at hand is a more detailed economic analysis.”
“We just were not in a position to demonstrate the type of control and maturity of the project to go ahead with the NY ISO on their calendar,” Hervey said.
While he said the wind farm might still proceed, environmentalists expressed concerns about fundamental issues related to the project, which was proposed after a smaller project stalled.
Nearly 1,300 megawatts of wind power have been developed in New York in recent years, according to the ISO. This would be the first wind farm in the state on water.
The project, to build a 350 to 700 megawatt wind farm 12 miles or more from Long Beach, has run into head winds over concerns as to size, location, cost and even process from environmentalists and others.
Environmentalists and wind power advocates, who might be expected to push for the project, instead have been vocal about their concerns.
“I don’t believe we should partner with Con Ed,” LIPA board member and environmentalist Neal Lewis said. “We should focus on a larger project. There are economies of scale.”
Peter Gollan, chairman of the Sierra Club Long Island chapter’s energy committee, said getting three entities to cooperate on a project such as this is like “herding cats.”
“I think it was proposed as much for political reasons as anything else,” Gollan said of the project. “If they’re serious about this, they should do environmental studies.”
Although Lewis said a feasibility study is being done, he worries that key steps, such as measuring winds with meteorological towers at the proposed site, haven’t been taken. He added that bird flight volume and patterns also would need to be measured at the site if the project proceeds.
“We should have done an analysis of the site and potential,” Lewis said. “I thought the approach would result in delays.”
Hervey, however, said LIPA believes basic economic studies need to be done to decide whether the project should proceed.
“All of this is to get to a point to understand whether we want to go forward or not,” Hervey said. “We call it a project. But it’s still very much in the study stage.”
Hervey said LIPA could resubmit the proposal to the ISO to allow it to advance, if it chooses to proceed.
“We can reintroduce the project at any time,” Hervey said. “That’s resubmitting a piece of paper, if we need to do it.”
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