Massive wind power deal expected to bring money, jobs to Brooklyn
Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the largest offshore wind agreement in U.S. history on Thursday. He was joined at the announcement in Manhattan by former Vice President Al Gore.
The massive infrastructure deal is expected to bring millions of dollars of investments and hundreds of jobs to South Brooklyn, among other locations.
The two winning offshore wind projects are projected to create roughly 1,700 megawatts of electricity, enough to power one million homes, create more than 1,600 jobs and result in $3.2 billion in economic activity, the state said in a release on Wednesday.
“And these are not just proposals, they’re not just ideas, we don’t do that here in New York,” Cuomo said. “The agreements we sign today will start moving on these projects now. The port upgrades will begin in 2020. Construction of the on-shore facilities will begin in 2022. Off-shore construction will begin in late-2022 and the projects will be completed by 2024.”
Gore called the combined projects “the biggest off-shore wind project ever in the history of North America.”
Power from projects like this is “now cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels,” Gore said. “Pacific Gas and Electric in California just announced they are shutting down a massive natural gas generating plant with two thirds of its useful lifetime remaining because it’s just so much cheaper now to use the sun and the wind.”
Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind won the state’s bidding process. Empire Wind is part of Equinor US Holdings, Inc. Sunrise Wind belongs to Bay State Wind LLC, a joint venture of Ørsted A/S and Eversource Energy.
These companies have committed to make investments in manufacturing and port infrastructure, Cuomo said. A total of $287 million will be invested in infrastructure in multiple regions of the state, including Brooklyn, Staten Island, Long Island and the Capital Region.
Empire Wind to be located in Brooklyn
The 816-megawatt Empire Wind project will use South Brooklyn as its operations and maintenance base, providing “consistent jobs” near the project’s proposed interconnection point at Con Edison’s Gowanus substation, according to the state’s release. Port upgrades in Brooklyn and sourcing of components could commence by spring 2021.
The Brooklyn operations base will be supplied by a foundation fabrication facility at the Port of Coeymans in the Capital Region.
“The project will be the biggest wind farm under contract in our portfolio so far. We are looking forward to developing Empire Wind together with local authorities, local communities and the U.S. industry,” Pål Eitrheim, executive vice president for Equinor New Energy Solutions, said in a statement.
A typical offshore wind project of this size represents a total investment of approximately $3 billion, the company said.
The Empire Wind project, which extends 15-30 miles southeast of Long Island, will supply energy to New York City. The site spans 80,000 acres, and covers water depths between 65 and 131 feet. The other project, Sunrise Wind, will be located in Long Island.
Training by SUNY
The state will partner with the private sector to establish a New York State Advisory Council on Offshore Wind Economic and Workforce Development, a new $20 million Offshore Wind Training Institute operated by SUNY and a $3 million Community and Workforce Benefits Fund to educate, train and employ New Yorkers.
Equinor will also invest over $60 million in port upgrades in New York and at least $4.5M to community benefits and workforce development.
“At a time when the federal government is denying climate change and turning a blind eye to its perilous consequences, New York is leading the way toward clean energy and protecting our environment,” State Sen. Kevin Parker of Brooklyn said in a statement.
The selected projects offered prices approximately 40 percent less than expected compared to analysis completed in early 2018, NYSERDA said in a release.
“An experienced maritime workforce—captains, crews, stevedores, dry-dock workers and many others—stands ready to serve,” said Roland Lewis, president of Waterfront Alliance, in a release. “With 1,600 new wind-related jobs in the pipeline, a jobs training program at SUNY is welcome and essential.”
New York’s clean energy goals include 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. As of now, the state has awarded a total of approximately 4,700 megawatts of new large-scale renewable energy contracts since March 2018 through three separate solicitations.
The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires the state to achieve a carbon free electricity system by 2040 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions 85 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
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