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Highlights from the 3rd Annual Offshore Wind Conference

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On November 13, 2013, CCE co-sponsored the 3rd Annual Offshore Wind Conference entitled, “Offshore Wind Power for New York: Reaching America’s Next Clean Energy Frontier.” The conference was held at Stony Brook University on Long Island, where close to 200 attendees packed the Wang Center’s theater to hear activists, experts, and industry leaders describe how New York can benefit from offshore wind development and the critical next steps to finally make it a reality.

The day was filled with some great presentations! The first panel  made the case for why we need offshore wind power. Moderator Adrienne Esposito of Citizens Campaign for the Environment said, “When we say no to wind, we say yes to an equivalent fossil fuel.” Panelist Gordian Raacke of Renewable Energy Long Island spoke about Long Island’s clean energy and climate goals, noting that at present, LIPA spends $1.5 billion on imported dirty fossil fuels. Catherine Bowes of the National Wildlife Federation provided a national perspective on offshore wind power and wildlife and Doug Sims of the NRDC outlined the economic benefits of offshore wind for New York. Finally, Neal Lewis of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College and a LIPA Trustee discussed setting measurable and attainable goals for clean energy on Long Island.

The second panel, moderated by Valerie Strauss of ACE NY, focused on the economics of offshore wind energy. Panelist David Hang of DE Shaw discussed why offshore wind power is a wise investment for New York–a  place with high energy prices, dense coastal populations and high wind speeds. Next, Paul Shatsoff of the Workforce Development Institute provided an analysis of supply chain and economic development opportunities. Specifically, he discussed how offshore wind development creates jobs in manufacturing, marine biology, and in the legal, environmental and professional service sectors. Finally, Dr. Bruce Bailey of AWS Truepower talked about how offshore wind provides power when and where we need it most. The Seabreeze effect, he explained, means that offshore wind power is strongest in the summer months when demand is at its highest.

The Luncheon Keynote, delivered by Robert F. Lurie, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning, New York Power Authority, was followed by an exciting and interactive roundtable discussion, moderated by Pulitzer Prize winner Bob Keeler. Greg Lennon (Director of Business and Project Development, NYPA), Michael Snyder (Policy Analyst, New York Department of State), John Williams (Director, Energy Analysis, NYSERDA), David Daly (President and COO, PSEG-Long Island), Jim Lanard (President, Offshore Wind Development Coalition), and Jackson Morris (Director of Strategic Engagement, Pace University Energy and Climate Center) discussed bringing offshore wind power to New York and took questions from the audience.

During the roundtable, Jackson Morris spoke about how the myth of “cheap natural gas forever” is a terrible foundation upon which to build an energy policy.  Morris and Jim Lanard both agreed that if New York is going to move away from a fossil fuel future, we need to see more aggressive and visible support for offshore wind from leaders at the state and federal level.  PSEG-Long Island’s Dave Daly said renewables would be a top priority for the company, which is great news considering polls show 8 of 10 Long Islanders support offshore wind.

Despite all the benefits of offshore wind, America currently does not have a single offshore wind turbine spinning off our shores. Fortunately, that is going to change. The conference also addressed offshore planning initiatives and existing proposals. For instance, construction is set to begin on the long-awaited Cape Wind offshore wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts in 2014. So, too, will the much smaller Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island. When completed, Cape Wind’s 130 wind turbines will supply almost 75% of the power needs of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket; while the 5-turbine Block Island Farm will supply enough clean energy to power over 17,000 homes. In addition, a 900 MW wind farm planned for off the tip of Long Island has very real potential to feed a growing and hungry Long Island market if it leads to a power purchase agreement in 2014. Offshore wind may finally become a reality for New York!

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