By Joe Martens
After years of study and planning, New York State has made good on Governor Cuomo’s promise to pursue at least 800 MW of offshore wind in 2018 and 2019. Last week, the New York Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a request for proposals for 800 MW or more of offshore wind. The RFP is the culmination of a deliberative process that started with a Blueprint for Offshore Wind published in the fall of 2016, followed by the release in January 2018 of a NYS Offshore Wind Master Plan, followed by a Public Service Commission Order issued in August.
To its credit, NYSERDA and its sister agencies have engaged stakeholders at every stage of the process and continue to refine the offshore wind program through the formation of four technical working groups covering environment, fisheries, ports and infrastructure, and jobs and supply chain.
I serve on the Environmental Technical Working Group (E-TWG), which kicked off a two-day “State of the Science” workshop on wildlife and offshore wind energy development on Long Island this past week. The workshop was attended by well over 100 people, including experts from Europe, where there are now 91 offshore wind farms in operation. The workshop examined current research on the potential impacts to marine mammals, birds, bats, and more. Participants identified data gaps, research needs, and discussed how to prioritize the work that should be done to ensure that the offshore wind industry is developed responsibly with the least amount of environmental impact.
Next up, NYSERDA is hosting a “Suppliers Forum” in New York City to ensure that information about offshore wind supply chain is broadcast far and wide and offshore wind-related businesses are connected to offshore wind developers in an effort to maximize the amount of New York vendors in this burgeoning industry. NYSERDA estimates that offshore wind development will employ some 5,000 people and generate some $6 billion in economic activity, making this Suppliers Forum very timely.
And finally, later this month, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management will hold a Renewable Energy Task Force meeting to discuss its proposed Wind Energy Area in the New York Bight. BOEM is proposing a dramatically reduced area for potential lease, causing concerns about whether it is adequate to ensure robust competition and large enough to meet the offshore wind goals of New York and New Jersey. Stay tuned for more on this.