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NYPA: GLOW all set to go

iStock rendering used with permission.

iStock rendering used with permission.

New York Power Authority President and CEO Richard M. Kessel announced Friday the start of a multiphase review of five proposals for firms vying to construct the Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) power project.

The projects are planned for either Lake Erie or Lake Ontario or locations on both lakes. During the review’s first phase, which officials expect to last about six months, NYPA will evaluate requests for proposals to determine a preferred developer.

Information on the proposals has not yet been released. Under procurement law, NYPA may not share information on any proposal during the initial review.

According to The Associated Press, NYPA would buy all the 125 to 500 megawatts of electricity generated by the windmills, and the wind farm would be among the first in North America. Federal authorities have approved a proposed 130-turbine project off Massachusetts’ Cape Cod. New Jersey and Delaware are among the states exploring similar projects.

Kessel told The Daily Record on Friday that the project, which “focuses on the three ‘E’s’ — energy, environment and economic development” could bring thousands of jobs Upstate.

“This will help decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and provide clean power,” Kessel said, noting that the project has support of the environmental community, including Citizens Campaign for the Environment.
Wind-power projects, in general, are often criticized for aesthetic reasons, but Kessel said there always will be some opposition to projects of this scope.

“We’ve done full environmental impact studies and there’s nothing you can do like this without some problems and objections,” he said. “In light of the BP/Gulf Coast fiasco, windmills in the water look pretty good.”

Brian Smith, Western New York program director for Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said aesthetics are subjective, but his group doesn’t “analyze based on aesthetics.”

Like Kessel, he referenced the massive, as-yet uncontained oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, saying the devastation there has been caused by shortsighted energy policy and that NYPA was taking a step in the opposite direction toward a cleaner, safer energy source.

His group “is ultimately very supportive of offshore wind” but pledged to keep a rigorous watch on the project as it undergoes review, which includes segments for community input.

“We don’t support a project; we support a process,” Smith said.

Kessel said much preliminary work lies ahead once NYPA’s initial review phase is complete. He called the five proposals “a strong showing” considering that the wind-power projects in Delaware and New Jersey received three and five proposals, respectively.

During phase two, scheduled to take place in late 2010 or early 2011, NYPA trustees will evaluate staff recommendations and select a preferred developer pending successful contract negotiations, completion of all regulatory and environmental reviews, and community input. The announcement of a developer will be made public on the NYPA website, and the firm will work to meet the regulatory and environmental reviews, which can be subject to expanded public input. The process is expected to last two years.

Once a purchase-power agreement is reached, construction can begin. Project operation is anticipated in two to three years following the contract signing.

NYPA announced the GLOW initiative in April 2009, which had the support of National Grid, NYSERDA, the state Department of Environmental Conservation, state and local environmental organizations, wind power developers and the University at Buffalo.

At the time, Gov. David A. Paterson hailed the effort as “an opportunity to ensure that New York is the national leader in the growth of the clean energy economy.” Paterson also set the so-called “45 by 15 goal,” calling for New York to meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency and renewable sources by 2015.

Get Listed! — a NYPA initiative in collaboration with a number of state economic development and energy groups, including the Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, Buffalo Niagara Partnership, Empire State Development Corporation, Greater Rochester Enterprise and the University at Buffalo — invites businesses to describe their company’s abilities and availability to work in the wind power industry on the GLOW Business Registry, online at www.nypa.gov/glowbusinessregistry. More than 220 businesses have joined the registry so far. Get Listed! events were held in Buffalo in February and in Rochester in April, with more than 150 attendees at each location. The next Get Listed! will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. June 24 at Syracuse Center of Excellence, Syracuse University. Businesses can reserve a seat online via a link on NYPA’s website at www.nypa.gov or by contacting Megan Rasbeck, (716) 842-1357, ext. 110; e-mail mrasbeck@buffaloniagara.org.