Deepwater One Offshore Wind Project Can Create 300 Long Island Jobs, With LIPA's Help

Offshore wind power is ready for primetime and poised to make a significant contribution to the economy and to job numbers in the United States and here in New York.

That was the message yesterday, as offshore wind power developer Deepwater Wind joined Long Island labor leaders and the Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone to announce the company’s plan to create 300 direct jobs on Long Island in the offshore wind power industry. “We’re delighted to be partnering with the Building Trades and Long Island Federation of Labor to develop the skilled trades, supply chain and facilities here on Long Island to serve the growing offshore wind industry,” Deepwater Wind’s CEO Jeff Grybowski said at a press conference, where he discussed plans to build a 1,000-megawatt offshore wind power project, located about 30 miles east of Montauk, called Deepwater One. “From engineers to construction workers, our first project would mean a wide range of new jobs for several hundred Long Islanders. We’re anxious to move forward on this path-breaking project.”

Like a lot of promising offshore wind power projects currently on the drawing boards, to move forward, this one needs some support, in this case, from the Long Island Power Authority board. It’s scheduled to decide at its December 17th board meeting whether the initial component of the Deepwater One project (just over 200 megawatts) is on the short list of contract awards for Long Island’s 280-megawatt renewable energy request for proposals. Deepwater One already has abundant support from business and labor leaders across the state, and from a bipartisan group of Long Island elected officials. In fact, 14 of them, State Assembly members from Long Island, recently to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: “Prevalent wind conditions found offshore Long Island present a tremendous opportunity to generate clean, renewable energy at the capacity needed to meet NY State’s renewable and energy efficiency goals, including reaching the 50% carbon emission reduction by 2030 and the 80% reduction by 2050.” NRDC agrees and urges LIPA to include DeepwaterOne on the short list for a renewable energy contract.

The planned Deepwater One project would supply clean electricity to about 120,000 Long Island homes. Just as importantly, it will help solve Long Island’s power supply problems. The area is in what energy planners call a “load pocket” — a significantly constrained electric service area. Because it’s so densely populated, Long Island, like much of the New York metropolitan area, has little room to build new electric generation and transmission infrastructure. Deepwater One’s infrastructure would be located offshore, where room is abundant and infrastructure can be designed to protect important sea life and habitats. (Deepwater Wind has already entered into a precedent-setting agreement to protect highly endangered North Atlantic right whales as it develops this project.) Deepwater One could help solve Long Island’s electric supply problem fast, with pre-construction slated to begin next year, construction in 2017, and commercial operations by 2018.

As the Long Island Assembly members who wrote Governor Cuomo noted, the Long Island coastline is a great place to develop offshore wind power. In fact, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority, the state’s energy authority, estimates that 2,500 megawatts or more of offshore wind could be built by 2025. Importantly, not only does offshore wind power create more jobs than any other kind of electric generation, it produces the most power when demand is highest — on hot summer afternoons, when high electric demand stresses our electric grid, and on cold winter days and nights, when the use of electricity for heating can skyrocket.

Around the world, offshore wind power is growing fast. In European waters alone, there are currently more than 70 projects supplying more than 73,000 megawatts of electricity. China and Japan are getting in on the action, too. Here in the U.S., we’re playing catch-up, for now. But, as today’s announcement shows, the industry is poised for success, ready to offer good-paying jobs and pollution-free energy.

To make those possibilities a reality, all that needs happen is some smart policies that will get projects like Deepwater One off the drawing boards and into the water.

LIPA, now’s the time to step up.