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NextEra proposes wind-farm transmission projects around state

The company that once was awarded – then lost – a contract to build what was to be Long Island’s first wind farm off Jones Beach announced Friday that it’s taking another crack at the market.

NextEra Energy Transmission New York said it’s submitted multiple proposals to the state grid manager to develop high-voltage transmission projects to deliver offshore wind power around the state.

NextEra is an affiliate of the former FPL Energy and Florida Power & Light of Juno Beach, Florida. In the early 2000s, LIPA awarded a contract to FPL to build a 140-megawatt wind turbine off Long Island starting three miles from the beach, between Jones Beach and Robert Moses state parks.

The proposal had strong backing from environmental groups, but some homeowners and fishermen objected, saying it was too close to the beach and in active fishing grounds in state waters. The proposal was ultimately scuttled by LIPA as too costly for the amount of energy it would produce, after Newsday reports and a consulting company found the price for the project, previously undisclosed, would cost ratepayers $811 million.

NextEra, whose affiliates already have contracts for green-energy projects such as battery storage and solar farms on Long Island, said on Friday that its “multiple proposals” were aimed at delivering power to New York and Long Island. NextEra says it’s the world’s largest generator of energy from the wind and solar projects.

The new proposals don’t include actual offshore wind farms, but would connect “varying levels of Long Island offshore wind,” with “cost-containment provisions” that “minimize New York customer financial exposure,” NextEra said. A spokesman confirmed the company isn’t proposing offshore wind farms.

NextEra said its proposals could be reviewed for possible selection sometime in 2022. The company noted it already has a contract for a project called the Empire State Line that will help transmit thousands of megawatts of green-energy around the state, including power from Canada. “No company is better positioned to support the development, construction and operation of a large transmission network,” the company said.

When LIPA scuttled the FPL 140-megawatt, 40-turbine offshore wind project in 2007, its study found that the annual $66 million power premium for offshore wind would amount to $2.50 more a month for average customers. LIPA has since contracted for a South Fork Wind Farm that will provide 130 megawatts of power at a cost to customers of up to $1.58 more a month.

Another bone of contention was that the cost of the FPL project had ballooned over time. When LIPA first announced the plan in the early 2000s, the cost was estimated to be about $150 million to $200 million. But Newsday Freedom of Information Law requests found the actual contract-awarded price in 2003 to be $356 million. Newsday later learned the cost had ballooned to $650 million and LIPA’s study found it to be $700 million and transmission upgrades pushed it to more than $800 million.

The South Fork project has an all-in contract value of just over $2 billion. Other projects planned for Long Island, capable of producing more than 800 megawatts to 1,200 megawatts, have estimated price tags of $3 billion each.