Offshore Wind Turbines In The Great Lakes?

map showing potential sites for offshore wind turbines on Lake Erie

New York Power Authority President and Chief Executive Officer Richard M. Kessel has announced the release of a request for proposals for the development of offshore wind power projects in the New York State waters of Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario. Not only will this represent the first initiative in the Great Lakes, it will be the first wind power development of any kind in a fresh water body in the nation.

“The development of a wind energy project in the Great Lakes off the shores of New York will bring us another step towards my goal to meet 30 percent of the State’s electricity needs from renewable resources by 2015, help demonstrate the significantly untapped potential of offshore wind, and bring new clean energy jobs to Western New York,” Governor Paterson said. “I commend the New York Power Authority for helping transition New York to a clean energy economy, and for maintaining New York’s leadership position in developing renewable energy resources.”

“Today we reach a milestone in New York’s energy history by seeking the development of a wind energy project in the New York waters of the Great Lakes. These efforts will contribute to Governor Paterson’s goal to increase New York’s use of clean renewable energy and help revitalize the Upstate economy with the jobs and construction of the wind power industry,” said Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer, NYPA. “The significance of developing the natural wind resources of New York’s own Great Lakes will help diversify the state’s energy mix, strengthen our energy independence, promote economic development, create jobs and expand the use of clean, green electricity to reap the vital benefit of a better environment for future generations.”

“The development of a green economy and the reach for energy independence are two critical components to our economic future. We are counting on the Power Authority to take the leading role in these areas. The Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project initiative is an important step towards those goals. I look forward to building upon this new era by working with Governor Paterson and President Kessel to further even more policy initiatives to restore the Power Authority to its rightful place as the preeminent public utility in the nation,” said Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee.

“Hand in hand with the development of renewable energy sources like the Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project, are the potential of jobs and manufacturing opportunities that could help make the Upstate economy the leader in green industry initiatives through the efforts of the region’s talented entrepreneurs and skilled workforce,” said Michael Townsend, chairman, Board of Trustees, NYPA.

map showing potential sites for offshore wind turbines on Lake Ontario

“Today, NYPA is beginning to unleash the wind potential of our Great Lakes and brings this important groundbreaking project one step closer to reality,” said Brian Smith, WNY program director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Our wind-rich Great Lakes can soon provide us with wind rich renewable energy that will help combat climate change, drive economic development and promote energy independence. We applaud NYPA and Governor Paterson for moving forward with this truly historic project.”

The Power Authority is soliciting proposals for the development of a utility scale, offshore wind power project in the range of 120 megawatts to 500 megawatts. Respondents have been asked to include all project costs in their bids. The project would interconnect with new or existing transmission facilities of the appropriate regional electric utilities, which are all controlled by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO). The NYISO operates New York’s bulk electricity grid and administers the state’s wholesale electricity markets. The Power Authority would purchase the full output of the project under a long-term Power Purchase Agreement.

First announced on Earth Day, April 22, NYPA advanced its offshore wind initiative at a location by Lake Erie. In attendance were representatives of National Grid, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, state and local environmental organizations, wind power developers and the University of Buffalo. Leading up to the release of the RFP, NYPA has been conducting outreach sessions in Buffalo, Lewiston, and Oswego to inform key stakeholders about the subject and the process involved with moving it forward.

The Power Authority has commissioned the preparation of certain studies related to the project. Pertinent information from such studies will be posted on the NYPA Web site. Those studies include conducting preliminary wind resource, site screening and environmental studies, and other technical studies with respect to the New York waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to investigate potentially feasible locations for project sites as shown in the RFP.

Respondents may propose projects located anywhere in the New York State waters of Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario (subject to certain restrictions such as shipping lanes and avian exclusions) that interconnect at any point on the NYISO Transmission System which can receive the project’s energy output. Respondents should demonstrate the capability to develop, design, finance, construct, operate and maintain an offshore wind project.

The threshold requirements to determine a proposal’s viability include total generating capacity from 120 MW to 500 MW; location within the New York State waters of Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario; capability of project to interconnect with the NYISO Transmission System; plans for mitigating the project’s effect on the environment during construction and operation; and the financial capabilities of the developer. The Power Authority will give more favorable consideration to proposals that include: long-term economic benefits for the region including the use of local labor and materials; the manufacturing of wind components; firm pricing; a target commercial operation date in 2015; and a strong likelihood of public acceptance.

All proposals will be reviewed with a preliminary screening followed by a detailed analysis. Those proposals deemed eligible will undergo further evaluation which is expected to culminate in a recommendation of firms to the Power Authority’s senior management, and eventually its Trustees.

All RFP respondents are reminded to periodically check the NYPA Web site for answers to questions, clarifications and additional information that might be posted including announcements of important deadlines and dates.

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