Written by Rich Kassel, Group Leader, Energy, Environment + Sustainability, Capalino+Company
On February 6, Mayor Bill de Blasio presented a State of the City address that, among other things, aims to place New York City firmly in the center of the region’s emerging offshore wind industry.
More specifically, the Mayor pledged to invest $57 million in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT) to help support future offshore wind production. While funding to upgrade SBMT had previously been included in the Economic Development Corporation’s budget, it will now be repurposed to support the staging, installation and maintenance of wind farms that will be developed offshore over the course of the coming decade, creating 500 new jobs at SBMT by 2023 and enabling additional offshore wind-related jobs elsewhere.
Two key points here:
First, the timing of this investment could not be better. Last year, the New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) awarded its first two offshore wind projects, which will bring nearly 1,700 megawatts of clean, renewable energy to New York. These are the first of a series of projects that will eventually bring 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind power to New York State, far eclipsing the offshore wind commitments of other states.
New York’s offshore wind commitment is, by far, the largest in the nation—roughly one-third of all of the nation’s offshore wind current commitments so far. (According to the American Wind Energy Association, ten eastern and Great Lakes states have made offshore wind commitments totaling 26,000 megawatts, which will collectively create tens of thousands of jobs in constructing, operating, and maintaining these future projects.)
To serve all of these projects, a supply chain has to be created. Foundations have to be poured, wind turbines have to be assembled—and new port infrastructure has to be developed to get the turbines out to sea and to maintain the wind farms that will be built. NYSERDA has estimated that building out this new energy sector will create more than 10,000 jobs. The key question is where will this supply chain be, and where will the resulting jobs be located?
The Mayor’s announcement makes it more likely that many of these jobs will be based in New York City, rather than in New Jersey, Connecticut or other states that hope to attract this emerging industry.
Second, this announcement is an important follow-up to the Mayor’s signing of Local Law 97 last year, which will dramatically reduce the energy consumption of the City’s largest buildings by requiring the City’s large buildings to be retrofit or otherwise reduce their carbon footprint.
Embedded in Local Law 97 is a provision that will enable buildings to meet the law’s requirements by purchasing renewable energy credits. The concept: if a building is using renewable energy, it will reduce its carbon footprint dramatically without retrofitting. The key limitation: the credits must be linked to renewable energy that is generated or transported directly into the City. Wind power from Texas doesn’t count, and neither does offshore wind that is transmitted into New Jersey.
What’s next? A great next step would be for the City to take steps to make sure that future offshore wind energy gets transmitted directly and cost-effectively into the City’s grid. This would provide a win-win for both the climate and for the City’s energy consumers. Sites for the transmission lines to be brought ashore and be connected to existing power substations must be identified and secured, and an array of agencies and offices must work together to ensure that these transmission projects can move forward expeditiously while addressing any community concerns that may arise along the way.
The bottom line?
It’s exciting to see the de Blasio administration investing in New York’s offshore wind future, and we are excited about the next steps ahead.
Capalino+Company works with companies and non-profit organizations to develop and implement low-emission, sustainable business strategies, and to facilitate the adoption of innovative building, energy, resiliency, solid waste, transportation, and water technologies, products, and projects.
For more information on our Energy, Environment + Sustainability Services, contact Rich Kassel at Rkassel@capalino.com or 212-616-5822.
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