- New York has selected Equinor Wind US to develop a pair of offshore wind facilities capable of generating 2,490 MW of power. The state has a goal of bringing online 9,000 MW of offshore wind by 2035, and the new announcement means there are now plans in place for almost half that target.
- Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the Equinor contracts on Wednesday, as part of the rollout of his 2021 agenda. He said the state's green energy program is expected to ultimately supply 12,400 MW while supporting more than 50,000 jobs and enabling $29 billion in private investment.
- The state has also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development of $5 billion in transmission projects to move renewable energy from the upstate region and Canada, into New York City.
New York's commitment to offshore wind is intended to position the state as a leader in wind turbine construction.
As part of the offshore wind agreement, Equinor said it has agreed to revitalize two New York ports — the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal and the Port of Albany — "into large-scale offshore wind working industrial facilities that position New York to become an offshore wind industry hub."
"The U.S. East Coast is one of the most attractive growth markets for offshore wind in the world," Equinor CEO Anders Opedal said in a statement. He added that the projects will "play a major role in the state's ambitions of becoming a global offshore wind hub."
Cuomo said companies have committed to manufacture wind turbine components within New York.
"We will advance our green manufacturing capacity and the jobs that go with it," he said. "We will establish the nation's first offshore wind tower manufacturing facility at the Port of Albany, transforming a brownfield into a state of the art factory for wind towers."
The Port of Albany project will create 500 construction jobs and will employ 300 full time workers, who will build 150 of the wind turbine towers each year, said Cuomo.
"With this plan, New York State will now have five active port facilities serving the offshore wind industry, more than any other state," Cuomo said.
The contract with Equinor "positions New York as the undeniable center of gravity for the burgeoning U.S. offshore wind industry," according to a renewable energy alert from law firm Hodgson Russ.
Clean energy stakeholders hailed Cuomo's announcements, noting that the state's clean energy strategy creates a strong link between the development of carbon-free resources and bolstering the economy.
"Nothing holds more potential to get our economy humming again than clean energy," Rich Schrader, Natural Resources Defense Council's New York political director, said in a statement. "The governor's roadmap for the year ahead reflects this understanding."
The state is "smart to recognize that clean energy is a sector poised for growth and ready to help New York's economy recover from COVID," Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, said in a statement. "It is impressive that New York now has contracts for half of the 9,000 MW of offshore wind energy we are aiming for."
Transmission, solar investments
The state is also making a major investment in transmission. According to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), utility bills in the state last year reflected approximately $1 billion in congestion costs "because of bottlenecks on our antiquated transmission grid."
Cuomo said this year New York State will construct a new, $2 billion, 250-mile "green energy superhighway," and that construction is underway on the New York Power Authority's 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan. Construction is expected to begin soon on several "key projects" in Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region, according to NYSERDA.
The RFP for a possible new transmission line is seeking "to negotiate contracts for up to an aggregate 1,500 MW but may exceed this quantity if it receives proposals that are sufficiently compelling," according to the document. The state wants to make a decision on the project in the third quarter of this year.
New York will also contract for two dozen large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, Cuomo announced, including 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility. They will combine for 2,200 MW of capacity. In the last five years, New York has contracted for the construction of 68 new large-scale renewables projects which will add 6,100 MW and generate investment of more than $12 billion.
The state is taking steps to accelerate the development of renewables projects. NYSERDA on Jan. 13 filed an implementation plan for the state's Clean Energy Resources Development and Incentives "Build-Ready" Program. That program will seek to identify locations in New York that may be suitable for renewables development, and works to advance those sites to a competitive solicitation to private developers.
According to the proposed implementation plan, the program will prioritize development of sites "that commercial developers might elect not to pursue due to complicated development challenges," including brownfields, abandoned commercial sites, landfills or former industrial sites.
The Build Ready program was authorized in the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, passed in 2020. The legislation also created New York's new Office of Renewable Energy Siting, which aims to accelerate development of facilities 25 MW or larger.