New York has been called the “Saudi Arabia of wind,” with offshore winds strong and steady enough to rival any in the world. Wind energy, especially offshore, has enormous potential to benefit New York businesses and to grow our economy. In fact, the state plans to bid for a federal lease to develop a 127-square-mile site in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, smoothing the way for lower-cost wind energy.
But to ensure wind plays a major role in our state’s energy production, the right regulatory structures and incentives must be written into the Clean Energy Standard being developed by the Cuomo administration. The business community and general public should insist that the new standard include efficiency benchmarks and require the rapid and massive development of offshore wind.
A major benefit of offshore wind is that it supplies the greatest amount of energy in the late afternoon, when electric usage surges. Turbines on the water can be larger and deliver more power than those on land and be situated far enough offshore to be nearly invisible. New York City, the state’s largest consumer of energy, is ideally located to benefit from this energy right in its backyard, reducing transmission costs. Moreover, the operating costs of wind are stable and predictable because the “fuel” is always free.
The economic benefits of offshore wind go far beyond just energy production. An offshore wind mandate in the administration’s new standards would kick-start an entire new American supply chain: engineering, manufacturing, transportation, installation, sales, technical support and more. Jobs and economic growth could benefit not just New York’s coastal communities, but upstate as well.
Offshore wind is still in its infancy in the U.S., but General Electric has built and Deepwater Windhas just installed the nation’s first offshore wind platforms and towers, right off Block Island. Beginning in the fall, these towers will deliver 90% of the island’s energy. The logistics of shipping channels, fishing grounds and wildlife migration were worked out to everyone’s satisfaction—proving that offshore wind can benefit all.
In Europe, large-scale offshore wind installations have been supplying power for 20 years. If any more proof is needed that the technology is available and the business models are in place, Denmark now sources 40% of its electricity from wind.
New York State has the opportunity, through a massive commitment to offshore wind, to continue its national leadership in setting strong clean energy policy. Not only can Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio meet the criteria they have set for sustainable energy, but they can improve the economic lives of our citizens.
Global warming presents a major threat to our state. New York’s population and business centers have the most to lose from the sea-level rise and powerful storms wrought by unmitigated climate change. But we also may have the most to gain from ramping up renewable energy development, especially local offshore wind power. We need to continue New York’s environmental leadership and make offshore wind part of the Clean Energy Standard.