The Wind Farm’s Case


  • Publication: Southampton Press
  • Published on: Nov 21, 2020
  • Columnist: Karl Grossman

It would be the biggest offshore wind farm in New York State — more than 100 wind turbines starting 30 miles east of Montauk Point. It’s being called Sunrise Wind.

A “cable bundle” containing two electric cables would be buried under the seabed and extended west from the turbines for 100 miles, making landfall in the parking lot at Smith Point County Park in Shirley, and buried underground there. The cabling would then run for 17 miles, all underground, along William Floyd Parkway and, remaining underground, along other roads, and then the Long Island Expressway, reaching the Long Island Power Authority substation just north of the LIE in Holtsville.

Sunrise Wind would generate 880 megawatts of electricity and feed into the Long Island electric grid at Holtsville. The 880-megawatts would provide for 500,000 homes, nearly half of the Long Island Power Authority’s 1.1 million customer base.

A “virtual open house” was held on the project last week. Presentations were made and questions answered by representatives of the owners of the Sunrise Wind project, Denmark-based Ørsted, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, and Eversource, a product of a merger of New England utility companies that included Northeast Utilities.

Ørsted, since acquiring Deepwater Wind, owns the Block Island Wind Farm, consisting of five turbines off Block Island — the first U.S. offshore wind farm, which went operational in 2016. Ørsted and Eversource together own the proposed South Fork Wind Farm, which is to have 15 wind turbines also placed in the Atlantic east of Montauk Point.

The number of wind turbines in the Sunrise Wind project would depend on the size of the turbines used. If 8-megawatt turbines, common in new offshore wind farms, are used, the total would be 110. If the turbines would be smaller then there would be more to produce 880 megawatts of electricity. The project is “permitted for up to” 122 turbines, according to a spokesperson.

New York State last year awarded Ørsted the contract to develop Sunrise Wind after a competitive bidding process.

In the online “virtual open house,” representatives said the Sunrise Wind project would be a “catalyst” for clean energy. Here are some of the other points made by the representatives:

It would be a key to the “transition to clean energy” in New York State and the goal of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state to have “100 percent clean energy by 2040.”

The turbines would be “barely visible” from any shore. There would be “no harmful emissions,” and Sunrise Wind would “displace 2.1 million metric tons of carbon pollution” every year.

The “cost to the average ratepayer” on Long Island would be “less than $1 per month” extra on her or his electric bill. “Construction work could begin as early as 2023” — after all necessary permits are obtained — and completed in 2024.

There’d be a “host community benefit agreement,” through which Ørsted and Eversource would provide funds. Suffolk County Community College would become the “training center in Suffolk County” for offshore wind technology. It would be the “academic arm of the initiative.”

Port Jefferson would become a “hub” for activities. Workers on the Sunrise Wind project would live in two-week shifts on a “service operational vessel.”

Ørsted “brings unparalleled expertise” to the project, with its 26 “successful offshore wind farms” and “1,500 turbines worldwide.”

Cables would be buried “the entire length of the route.” All the “construction areas” would be “fully restored.” There would be “minimal environmental impact.”

Ørsted and Eversource welcome “stakeholder suggestions.” A slogan of “we listen, we learn, we adjust” was displayed. “We are totally committed to protect the environment … and work with commercial and recreational fishing interests.”

As to why the South Fork Wind Farm and the Sunrise Wind project would have different landing points, the explanation was that the South Fork project would be sending DC electricity to Long Island, and Sunrise would be sending AC. Also, there would be a difference in the voltage sent.

Offshore wind farms are able to harvest more wind power than onshore wind projects, said the representatives. Wind isn’t blocked and turbines can be larger, it was explained.

They said Sunrise Wind would be a “game-changer,” the “first of many” similar “large-scale” U.S. offshore wind projects. Also, offshore wind is an excellent “complement” to the other major source of clean electricity — solar power.

Take-aways from the new LIPA Fact Sheet

For what it’s worth, here are my main take-aways from the new LIPA Fact Sheet (attached below with highlights added) on the South Fork Wind Farm:

1.       South Fork Wind Farm was the least cost solution to meet increasing electric demand on the South Fork and New York’s renewable energy mandates.

2.       LIPA’s share of New York State’s 9,000 MW offshore wind target is over 1,000 MW and SF Wind Farm is the first of many projects to meet the Long Island goal.

3.       The South Fork RFP Portfolio (Wind+Storage+Demand Response) will cost the average residential customer on LI between $1.39 and $1.57 per month.

4.       The price LIPA pays for the 90 MW SFWF starts at 16 c/kWh; the price for the additional 40 MW (contracted in Nov. ’18) starts at 8.6 c/kWh (this additional energy was the lowest cost renewable energy ever on LI at the time). The combined cost for the 130 MW would be about 13.7c/kWh in the first year. Prices escalate at an average 2% per year for 20 years. 

5.       Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) over 20 years for the combined 130 MW SFWF is 14.1¢/kwh (in 2018 dollars, using a 6.5% discount rate). Cost of other planned projects in the region are projected to be significantly lower but an ‘apple-to-apple’ comparison is difficult because these projects are much larger and benefit from economies of scale. They were also selected later and thus benefitted from lower industry price levels. 

6.       Prices for offshore wind power have declined rapidly in Europe due to increased investment and improving technology and we are now seeing price declines in the emerging U.S. offshore wind industry.

7.       LIPA’s future offshore wind purchases will total over 800 MW, and will cost less as a result of expected price decreases. LIPA will also buy an estimated 90 MW of offshore wind from the recently announced 1,700 MW of New York State projects (by NYSERDA).

8.       As a result of procuring offshore wind power spread out over many years (a decade or so) as prices decline, LIPA’s overall offshore wind portfolio cost will be minimized.

9.       When comparing costs of renewable energy to conventional sources we also need to account for costs which are typically not accounted for such as the cost of air pollution, climate, unknown fuel price risk, etc.

The bottom line, as I see it, is that all this demonstrates that the South Fork Wind Farm not only provides us with local, renewable and reliable power but does so at an affordable price. And over time we will get more and more offshore wind power at even lower prices. This will result in a very affordable average bill impact and could even provide significant savings over fossil fueled power if natural gas prices turn out to be higher than currently forecast.

I’m attaching a marked-up version of the LIPA Fact Sheet where I highlighted sections discussing some of the above points in context.

Best, Gordian Raacke, Executive Director

Renewable Energy Long Island

page 1

page 2
page 2
page 3
page 4

Stunning misinformation from Wainscott opponents!

I got this in my Inbox:

Kinsella’s price calculation of 24.6 cents/kWh is hilarious! ­He can’t be serious about just adding the two numbers.

To calculate the combined per kWh cost of the 130 MW project one has to calculate the weighted cost of each component:

Output from the first 90 MW at an agreed starting price of 16 c/kWh with another 40 MW at 8.6c/kWh results in a price of:

(90 MW x $0.16 + 40 MW x $0.086)/(90 MW + 40 MW) = $0.137231 or about 13.7 cents per kWh in the first year.

Simple arithmetic. And LIPA’s Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) calculation over 20 years on page 3 of their fact sheet confirms the combined price in the footnote as 14.1 cents/kWh: