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Long Island lays groundwork

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) has applied for the nation's second offshore wind farm permit for a site three miles off the coast of New York's Long Island. If approved, FPL Energy intends to install the 144 MW project using wind turbines from GE Energy, while LIPA will buy the output and build a ten mile undersea cable to shore.

Land in the area is largely publicly owned and for recreational use, which may help the project overcome the permitting difficulties encountered by the proposed Cape Wind project off Massachusetts. Still, LIPA's application faces an estimated three years of federal and state review.

Extensive political groundwork has been laid, however. Under the banner of the Long Island Offshore Wind Initiative, a coalition of local, state, and national environmental organisations have been working with LIPA to help advance offshore wind as a solution for meeting the region's energy needs while protecting the environment. LIPA has also held more than 70 community meetings to gather input from affected parties, including residents who would have a direct view of the turbines.

LIPA chairman Richard M Kessel says he will campaign for the project among the area's political, business and civic leaders. "The worldwide strain on available fossil fuel supplies and ever-increasing prices makes this situation a ticking economic time bomb for Long Island," says Kessel, who fears the regional economy could be "held hostage to foreign oil supplies."

A 2002 study commissioned by LIPA and the New York Energy Research and Development Authority identified potential for about 5200 MW of wind power capacity in a 314-square-mile band stretching three to six nautical miles off Long Island's south shore. By restricting the placement of offshore wind turbines to a smaller, 135-square-mile band, the study says about 2250 MW is possible.

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