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Offshore Wind Backers: Long-Term Benefits Outweigh Costs

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Friday, July 29, 2022   

As part of New York state's climate goals, Gov. Kathy Hochul has announced the third competitive solicitation of offshore wind projects, with the hope of powering 1.5 million homes. This comes after Hochul committed $500 million to offshore wind development earlier this year.

The state's goal is to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035. However, it isn't without cost to local communities, said John Polimeni, an associate professor of economics at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

"With any new initiative, it is expensive to develop the ports," he said. "If your port is not currently prepared for wind energy, you need to do some changes to the port to make it accessible and proper for wind energy."

Polimeni, who's also a Schenectady city councilman, said the short-term costs are small compared with the longer-term benefits that come from reducing dependence on fossil fuels. One of many planned offshore wind farms in New York will be up and running in 2024, generating power for the town of East Hampton.

In neighboring New Jersey, one of the largest wind farms in the nation is being built. Known as Ocean Wind, it is slated to produce 1,100 megawatts of electricity when it's operational in late 2024, enough to power 500,000 homes.

Caren Fitzpatrick, an Atlantic County commissioner, said she's ready to bring New Jersey one step closer to its goal of having 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035.

"We'll be able to impact the environment in such a positive way, but also impact the electric grid and keep it strong," she said. "We already have the infrastructure close to the shore - we just, in extreme layman's terms, need to 'plug in.'"

Pushback to the project stemmed predominantly from concerns over the location of the wind turbines. Beachfront residents were worried about obstructing their ocean view, while bird lovers were concerned about their effects on migratory birds in the Atlantic Flyway. However, the turbines will be 15 miles offshore - that's eight miles farther than birds migrate, and about five times farther than the human eye can see.


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