ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced on Wednesday that the Port of Albany would become the country’s first wind tower assembly site.
In the third installment of a four-day State of the State address this week, Cuomo’s comments focused on building up New York’s green energy economy in order to combat climate change and jumpstart the economy. Among the projects that Cuomo detailed is a new wind tower facility at the Port of Albany, which he said would employ 500 construction workers as its built and create 300 jobs for highly skilled full-time workers.
“We will advance our green manufacturing capacity and the jobs that go with it,” Cuomo said. “We will establish the nation’s first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany, transforming a brownfield into a state of the art factory for wind towers.”
The full-time workers at the port would build 150 of the 450-foot wind turbine towers every year, Cuomo said.
Materials will be delivered by rail and the finished product will be shipped out by river barges to offshore sites.
“Taking advantage of a fast-paced and growing market like the East Coast, the Capital District will become a center for this emerging technology,” Cuomo said.
New York will have five active port facilities serving the offshore wind industry, more than any other state, Cuomo said. These new ports will create 2,600 long- and short-term jobs and leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, a combined $644 million investment in port facilities, Cuomo said.
The Port of Albany will prepare sites along the Hudson River that could be used for large off-shore wind turbine assemblies – a major focus of the Capital Region Economic Development Council during the ongoing pandemic.
“The governor’s announcement today that the Port of Albany will be the home of the first wind tower manufacturing site in the state is a monumental opportunity for Albany County and the entire Capital Region,” Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy said in a statement.
In November, an offshore wind farm development firm called Equinor that is owned by the government of Norway announced that it wanted to locate a wind-turbine tower assembly facility at the Port of Albany’s planned expansion in the town of Bethlehem.
The Port of Albany has been working with the town to approve the development of an 81-acre site on the Hudson River, just south of the port’s existing property.
Port officials have said consistently that they have been courting a company that might assemble wind turbine towers and ship them by barge down the Hudson River to proposed wind farm sites outside of New York City.
Equinor has submitted bids with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to develop offshore wind farms in New York. Its plans in Albany are contingent on the company winning its latest bid, the company said in a statement in November.
U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer has recently been urging General Electric Co. CEO Larry Culp Jr. to build its new Haliade-X offshore wind turbines in New York – and possibly the Capital Region – a move with the potential to create hundreds of new high-paying manufacturing jobs in the area.
Schumer says that New York has committed to trying to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035, while other offshore wind farms are in the development stages along the northeastern U.S. coastline. If GE were to win contracts for those projects, a site in upstate New York would be ideal, Schumer said.
GE’s large off-shore wind turbines currently are built in Europe.
In his speech, Cuomo emphasized the need to “reimagine” New York’s economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and emphasized four pillars concerning the green economy: Identifying projects that can adequately support energy needs in New York; ceasing reliance on other countries for green energy supplies and building them here; building capacity to transit energy from where its generated to New York’s downstate populate center, and training and education the workforce.
“All four elements must be simultaneous and synchronized,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo also announced a $26 billion program to jump-start 100 renewable projects in the state, including 24 announced on Wednesday, creating a total of 11,000 promised jobs. He also announced a $20 million “offshore wind training” institute that will train 2,500 workers in 2021.
Many of the projects the governor touched upon had been in the works, although his announcement that he wants at least three major transmission lines from where power is produced upstate to the New York City metropolitan area represents a quickening of project timetables.
One of these main lines, he said, would run from Leeds, near Catskill in Greene County, to New York City. That should help solidify rural Greene County south of Albany as a hub of solar farm development. There are several projects approved and proposed for that area including a just-approved one in Coeymans.
Environmentalists and those in the green energy business said they were pleased with the governor’s expanded plans for green energy, which are needed if the state is to reach its goal of a carbon-free economy by mid-century.
“New York must have an economy that is completely powered by renewable energy, and today Gov. Cuomo confirmed that is the direction we are moving,” said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates NY.
“As New York looks to rebuild, nothing holds more potential to get our economy humming again than clean energy,” added Rich Schrader New York Legislative Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“At a time when bold action is needed to rebuild our state’s economy and combat the climate crisis, Governor Cuomo took a quantum leap forward today to help meet these historic challenges,” said Joseph Martens, director of the state’s Offshore Wind Alliance.
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