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Long Island offshore awaits

FPL Energy is "hopeful" it will be working with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) to build an offshore wind power station in Long Island waters, concedes FPL Energy vice president Mike O'Sullivan, confirming that FPL is one of two candidates on LIPA's shortlist. The other is Bluewater Wind, a local company headed by Peter Mandelstam. LIPA has not identified the two candidate companies, but says it will be making a final selection "soon."

In 2003 LIPA expected to have chosen the applicant and have the power contract signed by the end of the year for a wind plant of 39, 3.6 MW turbines slated for the southern shore of Long Island, roughly six miles from Jones Beach, a popular summer spot for New York City residents. LIPA, a quasi-governmental agency that manages electricity on the island, put out a request for proposals in 2002. The request asked for applicants to build the project, which would benefit from infrastructure additions paid for by LIPA and from a long term power purchase contract.

Unlike FPL, Mandelstam publicly announced his company's interest in the project. Bluewater Wind has been involved in community outreach, working with local officials and generally supporting emerging energy technology on Long Island. He has had no recent word from LIPA. "I've not heard anything one way or the other," said Mandelstam on April 20.

Officially, all parties to the project are keeping quiet about why finalising details has taken so much longer than expected. The LIPA project is being built in deeper water than a second offshore project for the US Northeast, slated for Nantucket Sound by Cape Wind. Word is that the added depth of Long Island waters has raised the cost of the project to unacceptable levels. The added time for negotiations is reportedly due to the attempt to bring costs down.

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