The United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (part of the U.S. Department of the Interior) this week announced that, after four years of review, the process of delineating a Wind Energy Area off the shore of New York is complete. This process arose from an unsolicited lease application filed by the New York Power Authority in 2011. That application was for authority to construct up to 194 wind turbines, with each generating 3.6 megawatts (MW) for a total potential yield of nearly 700 MW of wind energy generation for the Long Island and New York City region. On the occasion of this week’s milestone, Sally Jewell, the United States Secretary of the Interior, said in a news release:
New York has tremendous offshore wind potential, and today’s milestone marks another important step in the President’s strategy to tap clean, renewable energy from the Nation’s vast wind and solar resources. We will continue to work with the State and local stakeholders through a collaborative effort as we determine what places have the highest potential and lowest conflict to harness the enormous wind energy potential off the Atlantic seaboard.
The 127 square-mile (81,130 acre) area identified this week, which begins approximately 11 nautical miles south of Long Beach, New York, and extends approximately 26 nautical miles southeast, was defined based on its suitability for wind energy development. Abigail Hopper, Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, said the following in a statement:
This is a great day for New York, and our country as we continue to diversity our nation’s energy portfolio. The area is large enough for a large-scale commercial wind project, which could make substantial contributions to the region’s energy supply and assist local and state governments – including New York City – in achieving their renewable energy goals.
The next step is for the Bureau to conduct an environmental assessment to determine potential impacts associated with issuing a lease. The assessment will also consider the impacts of conducting surveys and installing resource assessment facilities in the area. The Bureau may then move forward with steps to hold a competitive lease sale for commercial wind development in the specified area.
If a lease is issued, the lessee/developer will be required to submit a construction and operations plan for the Bureau’s review and approval. The Bureau will then prepare a site-specific document pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act, and conduct necessary environmental consultations before making a final decision to approve the construction of the proposed project. As the process moves forward, the Bureau will continue to analyze issues and work with stakeholders before a decision is made to authorize the development of a wind power facility offshore New York.