New York to announce winning bids for offshore wind energy this week

Source: By Mark Harrington, Newsday • Posted: Thursday, May 30, 2019

The state is weighing the first contract in what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has said will be 9,000 megawatts of power from ocean winds.

A Montauk commercial fishing trawler navigates Block IslandA Montauk commercial fishing trawler navigates Block Island Sound on Aug. 29, 2017. The nation’s first offshore wind farm has been operating here. Photo Credit: Newsday/Mark Harrington

New York State in coming days is expected to announce the winning bid or bids for the state’s closely watched offshore wind-energy procurement, the first in what Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said will be 9,000 megawatts of power from ocean winds.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority since February has been reviewing some 18 bids by four large wind-energy companies to determine which will get the first contract, for an expected 800 megawatts. Bids of up to 1,200 megawatts are among the proposals. A megawatt of offshore wind can power more than 360 homes.

State officials declined to comment Tuesday on when the announcement would come, but people familiar with the plan said it’s scheduled for Manhattan on Wednesday or Thursday.

The state announcement will mark New York’s second offshore wind procurement, after LIPA trustees in 2017 voted to approve the purchase 90 megawatts of offshore wind from the former Deepwater Wind in a $1.62 billion procurement. The project has since been expanded to 130 megawatts by Deepwater’s new owner, Orsted, but a federal review of the project has been “temporarily paused,” said Orsted, while the company amends its site plan. A LIPA official said the planned service date of late 2022 remains on track.

Among the proposals being reviewed by NYSERDA is a project called Liberty Wind by Vineyard Wind and Anbaric Development Partners which would be located about 85 miles from the nearest New York shore, producing between 400 and 1,200 megawatts. Components for the project would be made in the Albany area and shipped down the Hudson River to a work site off the Massachusetts coast in the Atlantic.

The one project that would be directly off Long Island in waters known as the New York Bight is being proposed by Equinor Wind US, a Norwegian energy conglomerate. The project called Empire Wind would be14 to 35 miles off Long Island, and make use of the company’s 80,000-acre lease in the waters off New York.

Orsted, which last year acquired Deepwater Wind, is teaming up with Connecticut-based energy giant Eversource to offer a project called Sunrise Wind, which would be located in the waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, more than 30 miles from Montauk Point.

Another project called the Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project is a joint venture of EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US in a federal wind-energy area off New Jersey.

Fishing interests are urging state and federal governments to hit the pause button on new procurements, until extensive studies of impacts on fishing grounds can be completed. “Until regulators go through their entire inventory of wind areas and take out grounds important to fisheries, they risk the very destruction of our food source in the ocean and the loss of thousands of fishing businesses from Maine to South Carolina,” said Bonnie Brady, executive director of the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association.

NYSERDA, which is overseeing the procurement, in February said the “historic” procurement and the “record” response it received will provide “the robust competition needed to responsibly develop offshore wind for New Yorkers while spurring billions in private sector investment in New York, creating thousands of jobs and putting the state on a path to a carbon-neutral future.”

Equinor has said it would consider opening an operating facility somewhere on the  South Shore, likely in Nassau County. Orsted has said it would open a facility in Port Jefferson.