State moving ahead with wind farms off Long Island

By Claire Blaha

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority hosted the fifth of seven offshore wind open houses on Sept. 19 to explain economic opportunities that wind energy presents for Long Islanders. At Long Beach City Hall, officials presented two new wind power projects, Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind, that they said would revolutionize the clean energy market and provide new jobs in the state in the coming years.

NYSERDA’s offshore wind team said the new projects will produce 9,000 megawatts of power by 2035, which would meet one-third of New York’s current power needs. And with the United Nations Climate Summit under way, State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat from Long Beach, said he believes these new renewable energy sources will usher the state into the next environmental era.

 If all goes as planned, windmills such as these, off the coast of Rhode Island, will soon grace the waters 15 miles off Long Island’s South Shore. Photo credit: Scott Brinton/Herald Community Newspapers

“Within the next two decades, the U.S. needs to switch to 100 percent renewables if we’re going to try to mitigate a lot of stuff that’s going to happen because of climate change,” said Nick Venezia, a Baruch College student who attended the open house on behalf of the nonprofit Food and Water Watch. A change needs to come soon, and many, like Venezia, are hoping that that change will start here.

“This year in Albany, we passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and as the most aggressive in the nation, it says that our electricity, by 2040 in our state, will come entirely from non-carbon sources,” Kaminsky said.

The senator said he believes New York is at the forefront of a major development that other states will look toward when they begin to develop renewable-energy projects of their own. Many experts on NYSERDA’s offshore wind team and those involved with the two separate projects agree from an environmental and economic standpoint.

“We took this very holistic view so as to make sure that in going forward with the market. We’re doing so in a way that’s bringing the maximum amount of value in addition to the clean energy for New York,” said Adrienne Downey, principal engineer for NYSERDA’s offshore wind team.

Projects were chosen for development by NYSERDA after being weighed by specific evaluation criteria: 70 percent price, 20 percent economic benefits, and 10 percent viability. The Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind projects met these standards and provided opportunities for those who are living, and seeking work, in New York.

“This is an opportunity to put people back to work in manufacturing in the south Brooklyn area,” said Julia Bovey, the director of external affairs at Equinor Wind. Bovey’s company is developing the Empire Wind project, with plans to base operations and maintenance in Brooklyn to revitalize the area and provide long-lasting jobs for people there.

With the same goal in mind, the company Eversourse stated that its Sunrise Wind project will create about 800 construction jobs alone.

“There are a couple of the commitments we’ve made to Long Island and to the State of New York,” said Ken Bowes, the vice president of offshore wind for Eversource. “One is an offshore wind training center where we will train the physical workers who work on these projects and provide specialized training to go along with the expertise in certain areas such as electrical, steel work and other trades.”

New York state is partnering with colleges and universities to provide job training resources such as the Offshore Wind Training Institute and the Community and Workforce Benefits Fund. NYSERDA officials said they believe the offshore wind energy projects have the potential to provide more than 10,000 well-paying and high-quality jobs in many different fields. “The bottom line of creating a new industry is making sure that New Yorkers can benefit,” Downey said.

Originally published at on October 20, 2019.

Windmill photo appears by permission.