ALBANY – Blaming the bad economy, the state is shelving what could have been the first off-shore wind power farm in the Great Lakes.
On Tuesday, trustees of the New York Power Authority voted 4-0 to pull the plug on its ambitious Great Lakes Off-Shore Wind project, saying it would be too expensive for the authority to support.
Five developers had submitted proposals to develop offshore wind power projects for Lake Ontario and Lake Erie in the range of 120 to 500 megawatts. An average coal-fired power plant, by comparison, generates about 700 megawatts.
The lakes are seen as one of the state’s most reliable sources of electricity generated by wind, which blows uninterrupted primarily from west to east.
The proposal called for developers to pay for building the wind farms, with the authority connecting power to the grid and purchasing it for resale for 20 years to cover construction costs.
A medium-sized wind farm would cost the authority between $60 million and $100 million in power purchases, a figure called “not fiscally prudent” in statement from the authority. The numbers reflect a 150-megawatt wind farm costing between $1.2 billion and $2 billion to build, NYPA spokeswoman Connie Cullen said.
The project’s demise was blasted by conservation groups, which questioned the commitment to clean energy by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“This is not about cost. Instead of providing leadership to advance offshore wind, the governor has instead focused on rushing along a process to allow dirty natural gas drilling,” said Brian Smith, program director of the 80,000-member Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “While candidate Cuomo provided a strong vision for a renewable energy future that helped him to get elected, Gov. Cuomo has lost sight of that vision.”
Both Smith and Carol Murphy, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, an Albany-based alternative energy lobbying group, called for more information about how NYPA forecast project subsidies.
The authority worked behind closed doors since June 2010 with offers from developers, including Apex Offshore Wind LLC; Great Winds, LLC; NRG Bluewater Wind Great Lakes LLC; Pattern Renewables Development Company, LLC; and RES Americas Developments Inc.
“Apex will continue to explore the opportunities and issues associated with offshore wind in Lake Erie,” company President Timothy M. Ryan said.