With New Roadmap, New York is Poised to Scale Up Offshore Wind, Realize Environmental and Economic Benefits

New York State is poised for a much-needed breakthrough in the development of offshore wind power technologies that will harness the vast renewable, carbon-free wind resources off the shores of New York City and Long Island, according to a new report released today.

The report -- released by the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) and prepared by the University of Delaware's Special Initiative on Offshore Wind--provides a clear roadmap for New York State to capture the climate, public health, and jobs creation benefits of offshore wind and take the lead in pioneering this large-scale renewable resource, while reducing costs.

As NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes notes in a press release, offshore wind offers "the promise of a vast renewable energy resource for the state's most populous regions, [and] will also bring with it economic development, job creation and a cleaner environment."

Among the new report's important findings:

  • New York State's offshore wind resource presents substantial potential for production of zero-emission electricity;
  • Offshore wind energy could become the most viable option for delivering large-scale renewable electricity generation to New York City and Long Island;
  • While the costs of offshore wind are currently higher than on-land wind, already occurring technology and industry advances, combined with actions New York could take-- independently or with other states-could lower costs for offshore wind power by as much as 50%;
  • New York State's support for scaling up offshore wind with a pipeline of projects, rather than just a single one, could have the greatest impact in reducing costs. Other important policies for New York State could include developing innovative financing mechanisms, creating new infrastructure, and supporting the earliest phase of offshore wind development (known as site characterization).

While today's report doesn't quantify the economic benefits of offshore wind, a recent report from SUNY Stonybrook's NewYork Energy Policy Institute found that building just a single 250 megawatt offshore wind project off Long Island could create 2,864 full-time equivalent jobs on Long Island as well as generating approximately $645 million in local economic output. The report also found that scaling up the Long Island offshore wind industry to 2,500 MW megawatts could produce more than 58 thousand full-time equivalent jobs and approximately $12.9 billion in local economic output. . A companion SUNY Stonybrook report finds an offshore wind project off Long Island could be built with "essentially no impact" on consumers' electricity rates.

Look for a blog soon from my NRDC colleague Doug Sims, an expert on renewable energy finance, that will dig deeper into the report's findings and next steps and also delve into the many economic benefits of offshore wind, including its role in reducing wholesale electricity prices.

Moving forward

Kudos to NYSERDA for commissioning this important report and recognizing the many environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind. NRDC looks forward to working with NYSERDA and New York State to ensure that the promise of offshore wind is swiftly realized in the state. This will require New York to move forward with the adoption of the policies identified in the report that will scale up offshore wind while reducing its costs.

In addition, NRDC emphasizes the urgent need to extend and expand New York State's large-scale renewable energy program, called the Renewable Portfolio Standard program, as my colleague Jackson Morris explained in a post yesterday. New York should set the achievable goal of getting 50 percent of its electricity from renewable resources such as solar, on-land wind, and offshore wind by 2025. Today's report confirms the promise of offshore wind in meeting such a goal, which will dramatically reduce the amount of climate-warming emissions from New York's electricity generation.

NRDC also urges New York State to move forward with the following important policies to scale up offshore wind:

  • Adopting a specific offshore goal by a date certain: 5,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind by 2025 is achievable with the right policies in place;
  • Adopting policies that will lead to long-term contracts by New York's public and private utilities, including the Long Island Power Authority, to support New York's first offshore wind projects;
  • Supporting New York Power Authority's advancement of the NYC-LI Collaborative Offshore Wind Project proposed for a site thirteen miles off the Rockaway Peninsula.
  • Working with the federal government and other stakeholders to identify areas with strong offshore wind resources that can be developed consistent with protecting marine ecosystems and to move forward with offshore wind leasing in these areas.

All of these steps can help ensure the promising technology of offshore wind carries continuing and emissions-free benefits - and jobs - to New York's shores.