The authority does not have the legal right to grant or refuse offshore development permits. It does, however, have the right to supply long term power purchase agreements, which would help developers raise investment funds for the project. In addition, LIPA has agreed to pay for connecting the project to its transmission grid.
Lowndes says that LIPA and community wind power organisations have been holding "bi-weekly" outreach meetings with concerned residents in the area to explain the details of the project and to answer questions and concerns.
"There have been many concerns voiced by private individuals," he says. But no organised group has formed. "We do not think the Cape Cod situation has affected us at all. The situation here is very different." he adds, referring to a major controversy over a proposal for a 468 MW wind plant in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod (Windpower Monthly, February 2003).
Gordon Raacke from the project's Citizens' Advisory Panel, agrees. "The project is moving along nicely," he says. "There's a lot of public education that needs to be done. Generally, people are very supportive of renewable energy and wind energy in particular. There are people who have some serious concerns about wind turbines in general and some have specific concerns about offshore projects."
Raacke adds: "Commercial fishermen have asked a lot of questions about this project and some have come out in opposition, but the opposition has not been anywhere near as widespread as what's seen in the Cape Cod project."