After losing its bid last year to build a 210 megawatt wind farm 30 miles off the coast of Montauk, Deepwater Wind has put together a new, smaller project for the site that they’re hoping will meet the South Fork’s specific energy needs.
The 90-megawatt project, still called Deepwater ONE, was submitted to LIPA and PSEG-Long Island last week. It would be in the same location as last year’s project, but would tie into the South Fork’s electric grid with two new GE battery energy storage systems at existing electric substations in Montauk and Wainscott. The original project had been slated to tie into the grid near the Shinnecock Canal.
The project has already received the support of numerous environmental organizations on the East End, including Group for the East End, East End Climate Action Network, DefendH2O, Concerned Citizens of Montauk, the North Fork Environmental Council and Renewable Energy Long Island.
In a letter to PSEG-Long Island and LIPA corporate officers last week, members of the environmental groups said the electric utility companies “have the opportunity to put Long Island and New York on a pathway toward a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy future.”
“Renewable energy projects such as Deepwater Wind’s proposal to bring new capacity to the South Fork with an offshore wind project, complemented by energy storage, offers an opportunity to chose locally-produced clean power which is available during times of peak demand in summer,” they added. “This goes a long way to ensure reliable and clean energy capacity for the South Fork without having to build costly and harmful fossil energy peaker plants and unsightly transmission lines.”
Deepwater Wind Vice President of Development Clint Plummer said in an interview Tuesday that the wind company has tailored this project in response to a specific LIPA and PSEG-Long Island request for proposals to help meet peak demand on the South Fork, regardless of whether that power is produced by renewable energy or fossil fuels.
“It didn’t draw a lot of attention from the sustainability community because it focused on a limited area on the South Fork,” he said. “We’ll be competing head to head with proposals to build new fossil fuel powered plants on the South Fork.”
Mr. Plummer said his firm expects to hear a response from PSEG-Long Island and LIPA in May of 2016. If Deepwater wins the bid and can get a finalized power purchase agreement by the end of 2016, they expect to have all permits in place by 2019 and be able to have the wind farm in service by 2022.
East Hampton Town has made a commitment, based to large degree on the municipality’s faith in offshore wind, to produce all of its energy from renewable sources by the year 2030, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has pledged to produce half of New York’s energy through renewable sources by 2030 as well.
The project submitted to LIPA last week would include 15 six-megawatt turbines and would generate enough energy to power approximately 50,000 homes. The original proposal had been for 35 turbines. Deepwater Wind has enough space at their site 30 miles off of Montauk to install 200 turbines, and received a 30-year lease on the 256-square-acre site in 2013 from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
Mr. Plummer said there are three big differences between this project and the one proposed last year: It is less than half the size, it is plugging into the grid at a different location, where PSEG is looking for extra capacity, and the project is designed to offset the need to build new fossil fuel plants on the South Fork.
The battery storage sites will consist of lithium-ion batteries designed and installed by General Electric on industrially zoned sites on Industrial Road in Montauk and at the Wainscott Commercial Center. Together, the sites could store 15 megawatts of energy.
Mr. Plummer said the cost of all aspects of renewable energy — from wind turbines to battery storage to solar panels, has come down dramatically in the past several years, while the technology continues to improve, making renewable energy available at a competitive price, especially in areas like Long Island, which has some of the highest electric rates in the country.
“The overall perception by utilities on renewables has changed dramatically in the past few years,” he said. “With advancements in technology and a U.S.-based supply chain, we’ve seen the cost of technologies fall dramatically.”
“Particularly in places like Long Island, with a dense coastal population where it’s difficult and expensive to build anything else, offshore wind just makes sense,” he added.
Deepwater Wind plans to use the same technology for the Deepwater ONE site off of Montauk as they’re using for their Block Island Wind Farm, the country’s first offshore wind farm, under construction off the coast of Block Island. They expect that wind farm will be operational by the end of 2016.
“Last week we wrapped up the major offshore construction for the season, and all five foundations are in the water,” said Mr. Plummer of the Block Island project. “Next spring we’ll come back to do the installation of the cable systems and the turbines.”
Mr. Plummer said his company envisions the current Deepwater ONE proposal as the beginning of a regional energy center that could also power the North Fork and other states near their site off of Montauk.
“With this project, we are not only helping Long Island to reach a 280-megawatt renewable energy goal, we’re not only helping East Hampton and Governor Cuomo meet their renewable energy goals, but we’re also solving a real fundamental electric reliability issue,” he said. “In this case we are directly offsetting the need for PSEG, LIPA and ratepayers to fund building other forms of energy generation like fossil fuel power plants and transmission lines.”