By Joe Ryan
(Bloomberg) — New York State is mounting a broad effort to reduce the cost of building a wind farm off the coast of Long Island, an ambitious push to generate clean power in U.S. waters.
The state’s Energy Research and Development Authority plans to bid for a federal lease to develop a 81,000-acre (127-square-mile) site in the Atlantic Ocean. If it wins, New York would undertake initial site studies and pursue an agreement to sell the electricity. The state would then hold an auction of its own, selling development rights to the highest bidder.
New York officials see offshore wind as critical for meeting the state’s goal to get half its power from renewable sources by 2030. By doing the initial planning and guaranteeing a buyer for the power, the state intends to make the project appealing to developers, driving down costs and making it more likely the wind farm will be built.
“This is a resource that has to be, and will be, developed,” John B. Rhodes, president and chief executive of the New York State authority, said in an interview Friday. “It is our job to do it as surefootedly and cost efficiently as possible.”
Offshore wind is among the most expensive sources of power in the world. While it has thrived in Europe, the technology has languished in the U.S. as utilities balked at the price. If New York succeeds in lining up a buyer, the state would remove much of the risk for developers, and ultimately make the power cheaper for consumers, said Willett Kempton, a professor at the University of Delaware who studies offshore wind.
“This is New York telling the country that offshore wind is going to happen, ” Kempton said in an interview. “No other state has done this before.”
The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to auction off the lease for the site by the end of the year. The area, about 11 miles (18 kilometers) south of the city of Long Beach, is large enough to accommodate turbines capable of generating 900 megawatts, rivaling a nuclear power plant.
The first wind farm in U.S. waters, a 30-megawatt project off Rhode Island, is being built by Deepwater Wind LLC and scheduled to be operational by the end of the year.
© 2016 Bloomberg L.P