Locals fear LIPA plan to erect 40 turbines off
BY BILL BLEYER
From the sundeck of his West Gilgo beachhouse, Dick Moore has a bird's-eye view of the Atlantic Ocean, where the Long Island Power Authority wants to erect 40 wind turbines more than 400 feet tall less than four miles offshore.
"It's going to look like an industrial site with
foghorns, lights, and helicopters and support barges coming and going,"
While Moore and other barrier beach residents believe the
turbines that LIPA wants to reduce its dependance on
fossil fuels would mar their views, they insist their concerns are broader.
Some criticize the plan because, at least initially, the power the wind farm
would supply to
"Anybody living on the beach is immediately considered
a NIMBY - not in my backyard," said Moore, an electrical engineer.
"But we have a lot of people from the mainland just as much against it as
I am. People from outside the
While there are offshore wind projects already operating in
The 40 turbines would be sited in a 6-square-mile area of
ocean southeast of
"With oil and natural gas prices going through the roof,"
Kessel said, "concerns about aesthetics pale in
comparison to the need for the nation and
Formation of the coalition is one indication that the glow of approval that initially surrounded the project may be dimming. Critics say Kessel, who has been joined by many local and international environmental groups at public relations events touting the project, is going to have to fight for approval to build the turbines that would be located as close as 3.6 miles to land.
Since LIPA filed its application in April with the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers, public interest in the project has spread. So has
opposition, which initially came primarily from commercial fishermen concerned
about losing productive fishing grounds. When the committee members made their
first major public appearance handing out fliers at a meeting about the project
in Amityville last Tuesday, there were approximately 900
The meeting was organized by one of the first public officials to come out against the wind park, Amityville Mayor Peter Imbert. He wrote to Kessel last August, saying, "While renewable energy sources are admirable ... the environmental and aesthetic cost to the Great South Bay and Atlantic Ocean coastline is simply too high. These behemoth structures with blades extending over 400 feet into the sky are not the answer ... Please find another solution ... "
Joe Kralovich, president of the
Old Lindenmere Civic Association in
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has yet to take a position on the project. In an interview with Newsday, Parks Commissioner Bernadette Castro did not endorse the wind farm proposal, but said that "State parks supports the use of viable renewable energy projects such as windpower that advance the state's goal of protecting our environment and reducing our dependence on foreign fossil fuels. We will certainly assess the potential impact of the project."
He said the committee wants to know how many birds would be killed by the turbine blades or distracted by the warning lights and fly into the towers. He said he was concerned that noise would be a problem - from the revolving blades and foghorns.
The committee also has financial questions.
Dan Zaweski, manager of LIPA's Clean Energy Initiative, said the price for the electricity the wind farm would produce is still being negotiated with FPL, but the cost would probably be the same or slightly higher than electricity generated from fossil fuels.
"As the price of oil and natural gas continues to skyrocket, the wind project is looking better and better economically," Kessel said, and should eventually provide cheaper electricity than oil and natural gas.
"Would you rather pay a few cents more for electricity,
or go to a lung cancer ward because of power plant pollution?" asked Mark Serotoff of
As for the oil stored on-site, Zaweski said the substation would have 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel and "each turbine would probably have a mixture of greases and oils onboard that would be about 200 gallons." He said leaks were unlikely and these amounts would be insignificant compared with the amount of fuel that ships that pass through the same area carry.
Zaweski said there would be foghorns and low-level lighting to alert boaters and aircraft warning lights on the tops of at least the outer corner towers. The low-level lights would not be visible from shore while the aviation lights probably would be, he said. The foghorns would be heard for approximately a half-mile, and the blades turning would not be audible on shore, Zaweski said.
Studies of bird movements in the area are now being done in preparation for the full environmental impact statement and public hearings Kessel has promised, officials said.
"Florida Power & Light has said that they are not requesting an exclusion zone out there" to keep vessels away, Zaweski said, so boaters and fishermen could move between the towers. He said the towers and their bases "will turn into mini-reefs" that will attract marine life for fishermen and divers.
Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island who five years ago founded the Long Island Offshore Wind Initiative, a coalition of environmental groups pushing for the wind park, said, "Any energy infrastructure that is built will have some impact on our environment, our views and other issues, so it's a matter of making a choice. And we believe wind energy has minimal impacts and is the right choice."
Q & A: Why here and now?
The Long Island Power Authority's plan to erect 40 wind
turbines off the
Why does the wind park need to be at the site selected off
Dan Zaweski, manager of LIPA's Clean Energy Initiative, said, "We needed at
least 17 1/2 miles an hour as an average wind speed, and an installation in
more than 70 feet of water was not practical" because of the cost. "The entire Montauk area is a major layover spot" for
migrating birds. In addition, staying at least three miles from inlets
eliminated potential sites. "So what you ended up with was a relatively
narrow strip, which is where the project is being sited, and then a couple of
little dots here and there." Another issue was proximity to a substation ashore;
How does the project affect
The turbines would be visible from Robert Moses' masterpiece 4.6 miles to the northwest. LIPA says that's a plus. "Putting windmills in the Atlantic Ocean will only add to the historic nature of Jones Beach because it will be the location of the first offshore wind project in North America's history," LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel said.
Will the project save ratepayers any money?
In the short run, no. Zaweski said, "Right now we're looking at probably about the same price or maybe a little bit higher, at least initially." Kessel added that, "Oil and natural gas prices are rising at such a steep level that very soon the price of a unit of power from the wind project is probably going to equal, if not ultimately be better, than the price we're going to be paying in a few years from oil and natural gas."
40 Number of turbines
442 ft. Height above water
$0 Cost savings over fossil fuels (at least initially)
Comparing the projects
Wind farm projects similar to the one proposed by the Long Island Power Authority exist off the coasts of Copenhagen, Denmark; Great Yarmouth, England; and Arklow, Ireland. Here's how they compare.
Wind Turbine Cooperative,
1.5 miles offshore
Number of turbines: 20
Electricity output: 40 megawatts
Tower height: 210 feet
Rotor diameter: 249.3 feet
Number of turbines: 30
Electricity output: 60 megawatts
Tower height: 223.1 feet
Rotor diameter: 262.5 feet
Developers: Airtricity, General Electric
Number of turbines: 7
Electricity output: 25.2 megawatts
Tower height: 241.1 feet
Rotor diameter: 341.2 feet
Scheduled to open: As early as 2008
Number of turbines: 40
Electricity output: 140 megawatts
Tower height: 260 feet
Rotor diameter: 364 feet
SOURCES: AIRTRICITY, E.ON
Copyright 2005 Newsday Inc.