6:39pm

Tue September 27, 2011
Energy

NYPA: Great Lakes offshore wind is dead

Today, New York's plan for offshore wind in the Great Lakes arrived at its final chapter. The New York Power Authority has officially closed a plan to site turbines offshore in Lake Erie or in Lake Ontario.

That's right, GLOW has gone out.

"Community acceptance"

The Great Lakes Offshore Wind project had been at the heart of many rowdy town hall meetings in Western New York since it was proposed in the spring of 2009. Some environmentalists supported the plan. Others said it would wreak environmental havoc. But whatever the reasons, many lakefront communities passed resolutions condemning the project.

Finally, the Power Authority has said it will not accept any of the bids from companies to build the wind farm.

Observers anticipated GLOW's demise. The Power Authority pushed back a number of deadlines for key decisions about the project.

Jill Anderson, head of renewable energy for NYPA, says that ultimately many factors went into the decision, from "community acceptance" to "technical feasibility."

"Environmental impacts. And environmental benefits. But at the end it was really about how much it was going to cost," says Anderson.

The subsidy equation

The Power Authority had made a deal to subsidize the additional cost of building and operating the offshore wind farm: it would buy the power generated at a higher cost. However, that's turned out to be too expensive.

Anderson says that a relatively small wind farm, which could power about 150,000 homes would have cost NYPA from $60 to $100 million each year.

Bigger downstate markets have the dubious honor of having some of the highest electric rates in the country. So the agency will still pursue a wind development off Long Island.