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Alternatives Journal, Environment, Ontario Politics

Great Lakes Wind Development Likely Years Away

Flickr photo by phault.

Flickr photo by phault.

It turns out Ontario is not the only jurisdiction getting cold feet about offshore wind development – in the Great Lakes, at least. In October, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo released a new energy blueprint – known as The Energy Highway – that inadvertently put a wet blanket over plans to install wind turbines in either Lake Erie or the deeper waters of Lake Ontario.

Cuomo has left the door open to future development in lakes Erie and Ontario, should developers show greater interest in potential offshore projects in the future. But he has indicated that if the state chooses to pursue offshore wind, it would likely investigate installing offshore wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean off the New York City coast before moving forward with Great Lakes-based projects.

“The energy highway will ensure that businesses and residential consumers across New York State have access to the affordable power they need to plan for not just today, but also for the future,” Cuomo said in a release. “An economy built to last requires a power infrastructure that gives businesses the confidence and security they need to hire new workers and plan for years to come, and this Blueprint continues to position New York State as a national leader in clean energy production and investment.”

But there are some in New York’s renewable energy community that see the plan to add 3,200 megawatts of new electricity generation through $5.7-billion in private investments as a missed opportunity for the state to increase the percentage of green power in its energy mix.

“We’re at a crossroads in this state,” said Brian Smith, Program and Communications Director at the Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “We see power plants on the verge of retirement and the decisions we make today are going to have an impact for decades.”

“This is certainly not a signal to offshore wind developers that New York is open for business,” he said.

In late 2011, the New York Power Authority also killed a similar plan to place 150 turbines along the Lake Erie shoreline between Buffalo and Erie, Pennsylvania. Citing at least $1-billion in costs which was too steep for the state government, the project was shelved.

Gov. Cuomo did not go as far as Ontario’s Premier Dalton McGuinty did in February 2011. Bending to concerns about the impact of such projects, the premier placed a moratorium on all offshore wind development in the Great Lakes, pending a further study that some in the wind community are still waiting for.

The full article can be found at Alternatives Journal.

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