New York Enacts 100% Clean Energy Law, Secures 1.7 GW of Offshore Wind

New York on July 18 enacted the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA),  law that requires the state to produce 100% of its power from renewables and nuclear by 2040. The legislation includes agreements to build two offshore wind projects worth a combined 1.7 GW by 2025, the single largest renewable energy procurement in the nation.

The CLCPA signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Thursday codifies ambitions proposed under his “Green New Deal,” a climate change program that he claims is “the most aggressive” in the nation. Specifically, it mandates that New York slash its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050, relative to 1990s levels, effectively setting the state on a definitive course to achieve an energy transition to renewables.

The law will seek to achieve the stringent GHG emission cuts through the installation of 9 GW of offshore wind by 2035, 6 GW of distributed solar by 2025, and 3 GW of energy storage by 2030. It tasks a climate action council, led by the “expert heads” of specific state agencies, with crafting a roadmap of policies to achieve the mandates.

The council, which will be co-chaired by the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYSERDA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), will establish sector specific working groups “to make sure experts and stakeholders inform all policies developed under the CLCPA,” NYSERDA said in a statement. “Planned working groups include a just transition working group, as well as working groups on transportation, agriculture, energy-intensive and trade-exposed industries, land use and energy efficiency.”

Largest Single Energy Procurement

As the first order of business under the CLCPA, New York announced that two projects—Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind—had won its comprehensive offshore wind solicitation. NYSERDA, which is leading the coordination of offshore wind opportunities in New York State, said it has selected the “proposals for contract negotiation” through a rigorous and competitive process. Criteria includes the price offerings, New York State economic benefits, and project viability. “The selected projects offered prices approximately 40% less than expected compared to analysis completed in early 2018,” the agency said. “Following execution of the contracts, NYSERDA will release contract details, including price and other relevant metrics.”

The 816-MW Empire Wind project will be developed by Equinor US Holdings, a company owned by Equinox, a multinational energy firm that is headquartered in Stavanger, Norway. Until last year, Equinor was known as Statoil, a company with roots in the country’s state-owned oil and gas production, and Norway retains about 67% of the company.

Construction of the Empire Wind project will begin in 2022, according to NYSERDA, and it is scheduled to enter commercial operation in December 2024. The project is expected to supply renewable power from the New York Bight, an area from Cape May Inlet in New Jersey to Montauk Point on the eastern tip of Long Island, to New York City.

“Honestly, Governor Cuomo’s offshore wind announcement feels like a dream come true. Since we won our lease area three years ago, we’ve focused on one challenge: what’s the best possible project we can build for New Yorkers,” said Christer Geijerstam, president of Equinor Wind US, in a statement on Thursday.

The 880-MW Sunrise Wind project will be developed by Bay State Wind, a joint venture between Danish firm Ørsted and New England’s largest energy delivery company Eversource Energy, though it will be supported by Con Edison Transmission and the New York Power Authority. The project’s planned interconnection point is the Holbrook and West-Bus substations in the town of Brookhaven within the Long Island Power Authority’s (LIPA) service territory. The Sunrise Wind project is expected to start construction in 2022 and will commence commercial operation in May of 2024.

This map shows the combined project areas for Empire Wind and Sunrise Wind, the proposals selected for contract negotiations. Empire Wind is located centrally in the New York Bight and Sunrise Wind is far to the east of Montauk, Long Island. Proposed port facilities, including the Port of Coeymans, the Port of Albany, Port Jefferson, South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, Homeport Pier, and the Arthur Kill Terminal, as well as proposed onshore substations at Gowanus, Brooklyn and Holbrook, Long Island, are noted. Source: NYSERDA

A Gust for Offshore Wind

New York’s landmark law and offshore wind announcements come on the heels of similar news from neighboring New Jersey. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) on June 21 gave its first award for offshore wind to Ørsted’s 1.1-GW Ocean Wind project.If built to full capacity, Ocean Wind will be among the largest offshore wind farms in the world. NJBPU is now planning to open two more solicitations, each for 1.2 GW, in 2020 and 2022.

Offshore wind also factors heavily into New Jersey’s plans to produce 100% of its power from carbon-neutral sources as outlined by a state energy blueprint that NJBPU released in June.

The New York announcements, predictably, were hailed by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).  But, before the projects can begin construction, “they must pass a series of rigorous federal and state permitting requirements that ensure environmental and economic impacts are considered,” the trade group said in a statement to POWER on Thursday.

AWEA also pointedly noted that New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio “is reported to be seeking to power the city with imported Canadian hydropower rather than U.S. offshore wind energy that would drive economic development and job creation.” If that deal goes through, the city could “miss a major opportunity to be part of” a clean energy deployment movement, it said.

“The city’s enormous potential for clean energy production lies untapped, just off New York’s shores. As the city seeks to meet its climate change goals—we urge Mayor De Blasio to buy American and put New Yorkers to work building and operating offshore wind farms rather than importing hydropower from outside of the country,” said Andrew Gohn, Director, Eastern Region State Affairs, AWEA.

AWEA noted that offshore wind is still a young industry in the U.S. The 30-MW Block Island Wind Farm, America’s first offshore wind farm, came online in 2016 and the second U.S. offshore project, a 12-MW Dominion Energy wind farm, recently began construction off Virginia. In total, more than 25,740 MW are currently in various stages of development off the East Coast and in the Great Lakes, with additional potential off the West Coast.

“Many of the offshore wind projects currently under development, including New York’s, have many times the electricity generating capacity of the Block Island Wind Farm. Building offshore wind at scale will help drive down costs, create tens of thousands of new U.S. jobs, and drive billions of dollars in private investment,” noted AWEA.

Sonal Patel is a POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine).