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New York seeks offshore wind proposals for the Great Lakes

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) is seeking proposals for an offshore wind farm of 120 MW to 500 MW, to be sited in Lake Erie or Lake Ontario.

The request for proposals requires that all project costs be included for development of a utility-scale offshore wind project, which would interconnect with new or existing transmission facilities of regional electric utilities controlled by the New York Independent System Operator. The NYPA would purchase the full output of the offshore wind project under a long-term power purchase agreement.

The deadline for submitting an optional notice of intent to submit a proposal is 20 March, with a due date for proposals of 1 June. Winning project(s) would be announced by December 2010 and power purchase negotiations would be complete by 31 May, 2011.

“The development of a wind energy project in the Great Lakes off the shores of New York will bring us another step towards my goal to meet 30% of the state's electricity needs from renewable resources by 2015, help demonstrate the significantly untapped potential of offshore wind, and bring new clean energy jobs to western New York,” says governor David Paterson.

“I commend the NYPA for helping transition New York to a clean energy economy and for maintaining New York's leadership position in developing renewable energy resources.”

The offshore wind farm would represent the first initiative of its kind in the Great Lakes, and it would be the first wind power development of any kind in a fresh water body in the United States. First announced on Earth Day (22 April), NYPA has been conducting outreach sessions in Buffalo, Lewiston and Oswego to inform stakeholders about the subject and the process involved.

“Today we reach a milestone in New York’s energy history by seeking the development of a wind energy project in the New York waters of the Great Lakes,” says NYPA president and CEO Richard Kessel. “These efforts will contribute to Governor Paterson’s goal to increase New York’s use of clean renewable energy and help revitalise the upstate economy with the jobs and construction of the wind power industry.”

The Power Authority has commissioned studies related to the offshore wind power proposal, and pertinent information from the studies will be posted on the NYPA internet site. Studies include conducting preliminary wind resource, site screening and environmental studies, and other technical studies with respect to the New York waters of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario to investigate potentially feasible locations for offshore wind project sites.

Respondents may propose wind farms to be located anywhere in the state waters of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario (subject to restrictions of shipping lanes and avian exclusions) and must demonstrate their capability to develop, design, finance, construct, operate and maintain an offshore wind project.

The New York Power Authority is the largest state-owned electric utility in the USA, with 18 generating facilities in various parts of the state and 1400 miles of transmission lines. It finances its operations through the sale of bonds and revenues earned through sales of electricity, of which 75% is generated from hydro facilities.

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