Long Island chooses gas over offshore wind

Deepwater Wind's proposal still on the table

Yesterday, the trustees of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) voted to keep buying power from an existing gas supplier, National Grid, rather than vote on widening its pool of suppliers to include new generators, such as offshore wind companies.

LIPA’s trustees failed to vote on the bids it has received in response to a 2011 request for proposals (RFP) for new power. Instead, it confirmed that it will purchase up to 3.7GW in gas-fired generation from existing supplier, National Grid, over the coming 12-15 years.

"We’re very disappointed and we hope this does not close the door to offshore wind," Kim Teplitzky of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, told Windpower Offshore. As America’s largest environmental group, the Sierra Club ran an advertising campaign in the run-up to the vote, calling on LIPA to buy electricity from offshore wind.

Asked whether LIPA will now be unlikely to approve Deepwater Wind’s proposal to sell the utility some of its planned offshore wind-generated power, Teplitzky said: "Our sources have told us there is still a chance."

This view was reiterated by comments from Deepwater Wind chief executive, William Moore: "Our proposal to LIPA is still under consideration. We believe our project is the best alternative LIPA has for new generation."

LIPA serves 1.1m customers on Long Island, near New York City. It is the second largest local government-owned energy utility in the US by revenue.

Deepwater Wind has proposed supplying LIPA with some of the electricity to be generated by its yet-to-be-built Deepwater Wind Energy Centre (DWEC), a 900MW project earmarked for federal waters off Long Island. The developer's smaller 30MW Block Island project, off Rhode Island, appears to be moving forward without delay.

A poll released last week by Public Policy Partners concluded that nearly 90% of those questioned on Long island would prefer electricity from renewable sources such as wind. A slightly lower proportion - 87% - said they preferred clean energy.