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New York could reach 50% clean energy goal regardless of offshore wind

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New York could reach 50% clean energy goal regardless of offshore wind

New York could still reach its goal to procure 50% of its electricity from renewable energy by 2030, regardless of whether it leases areas for additional offshore wind farms, according to a draft environmental impact statement.

As part of the state's plan to procure 2,400 MW of offshore wind by 2030, the New York State Department of Public Service submitted a draft generic environmental impact statement for offshore wind procurement to state's Public Service Commission on Feb. 22. The report found that if the state decides against pursuing its offshore wind goal, it could reach its clean energy goals by purchasing power from other offshore wind farms along the East Coast from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

"There are a number of potential offshore wind energy projects in various stages of development ... that could provide some or all of the electricity procured by the Proposed Action," according to the draft EIS. "It is also possible that at least some of the procurement contemplated by the proposed action would be obtained from offshore wind energy projects that have not yet been proposed or constructed."

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According to the report, procuring 2,400 MW of offshore wind in New York waters would lead to $1 billion in total health benefits and climate change mitigation. A state offshore wind industry would also create an estimated 5,000 jobs and more than $6 billion of in-state expenditures.

The draft EIS does not detail environmental concerns for specific sites because there are no particular projects or leases to focus on. Broadly speaking, offshore wind turbines and transmission cables could displace marine life and birds that reside in the area. Adding offshore wind leases could also disrupt the state's shipping industry, which contributes $205 billion a year to the state's economy.

However, opting against offshore wind would not necessarily lessen environmental impacts, the report said. Offshore wind development could still occur off New York's coastline while other states procure the electricity. If the state decides not to pursue its 2,400-MW offshore goal, then more land-based renewable energy sources such as solar and onshore wind could be used to reach its renewable generation targets.

Statoil Wind US LLC holds a lease in New York waters with a potential for more than 1,000 MW of offshore wind projects after winning the lease in 2016. In January 2017, Deepwater Wind's 90-MW South Fork Wind Farm, located 30 miles off the coast of Long Island, received approval from the Long Island Power Authority.

The Public Service Commission will accept comments on the draft EIS until the close of business April 9.