New York Maps Viable Offshore Wind Power

Source: MIREYA NAVARRO, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The waters off New York State where wind farms are being contemplated.

New York Department of State. The waters off New York State where wind farms are being contemplated.

A new study mapping out habitats in and around the waters off New York was released on Tuesday, bringing the state a step closer to determining the potential for wind energy projects offshore.

The study is the product of a two-year joint effort by New York’s Department of State and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to identify critical bird and fish habitats to ensure that they are not harmed by future wind farms. Environmental groups say the prescreening will help save time and red tape and could attract developers and investors to wind projects by removing uncertainties about the environmental impacts at a given site.

Like New Jersey and other states along the Atlantic Coast, New York is seeking to take advantage of its geography to introduce offshore wind farms and significantly increase the amount of renewable power in its energy mix. New York officials have been working on identifying the most viable locations for the wind farms by surveying large swaths of the ocean with an eye toward protecting commercial shipping and fishing as well as ecological niches.

The ultimate goal, state officials said, is to protect places that are important to New York’s existing ocean industries while harnessing offshore renewable energy resources.

“We believe this work will serve as an important asset for New York’s offshore planning discussions and ultimately, help us meet our state’s renewable energy goals,” New York’s secretary of state, Cesar A. Perales, said in a statement.

NOAA officials said the study would serve as a model for future studies on the mid-Atlantic region. The agency said that researchers looked at biodiversity, habitats, resources and the ecology of seabirds and deep-sea corals, among others, to create maps to guide decisions on the locations of wind farms.

In a related development, New York City officials announced that they were seeking proposals to build solar and wind power installations on 75 acres of land at the former Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island. Officials said the site could accommodate large-scale installations to generate up to 20 megawatts of renewable energy, or enough to power about 6,000 homes. The project would more than double the city’s current renewable energy capacity, they said.