A long-awaited clean energy announcement on Long Island yesterday missed a major opportunity finally bring New York’s massive offshore wind power resource online. The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) committed to purchasing 122 megawatts (MW) of solar energy for New York. While every advancement of responsibly developed clean energy marks a step toward the kind of energy future we need – one that protects wildlife and future generations from the dangers of climate change – LIPA’s decision fails to meet even half of Governor Cuomo’s promise to supply 280 MW of renewable energy to Long Island.
Despite overwhelming support from a broad array of concerned locals, labor leaders, elected officials, business representatives, and environmental advocates, LIPA decided to further delay a proposed offshore wind project from diversifying New York’s electric supply. As detailed in NWF’s recent report, the benefits of responsibly developed offshore wind power include critical reductions in local air and water pollution and important progress in confronting climate change that is ravaging our coastlines and devastating wildlife habitats. In addition, there is a very strong economic case for offshore wind power:
- A study released this week by Stony Brook University found that an offshore wind power project of comparable size to the one proposed to LIPA would have “essentially no impact” on ratepayers bills – meaning that Long Islanders could get cleaner power without facing a higher electric bill.
- Demonstrated by the booming international industry that supports 70,000 employees overseas, developing America’s offshore wind power resources will create thousands of permanent, well-paying U.S. jobs.
- The wind far off of Long Island’s Atlantic coast is some of the best in the world – conveniently adjacent to one of our nation’s largest energy markets. It is an unmatched opportunity to offer a large-scale energy solution to the strained New York Metro market that is home-grown, inexhaustible, and pollution-free.
- Offshore wind power produces energy right when we need it. By a very fortunate coincidence, summer heat waves, afternoons, and winter cold snaps (those costly moments when we are asking the most of our electric grid), the winds offshore are blowing at their strongest.
- The Northeast region is dangerously reliant on natural gas – and hinged to all the price volatility that comes with it. Offshore wind power will stabilize electric rates by diversifying our power supply, and growing the portion of that supply that is controlled by the leaders we elect.
Governor Cuomo missed a major opportunity to advance offshore wind power with today’s announcement, but the conversation is far from over. We need to advance clean energy solutions that match the scale of the challenges before us. In Atlantic Coast states, offshore wind power is a critical piece of the solution. New Yorkers have been loud and clear expressing their support for this massive local clean energy source, and we need to take this opportunity to raise the volume on our call to action: offshore wind power is a solution we are lucky to have, one that matches the values and concerns of New York ratepayers, and now is the time to make it happen.
The National Wildlife Federation is committed to helping realize our massive Atlantic offshore wind power potential in a manner that protects wildlife and their habitats throughout all stages of development. New York’s coastal and low-lying communities know the threats of climate change all too well – it is time we take action and build the smarter, more resilient energy future that is within reach and to hold our elected officials accountable to doing their part.