Article

LIPA and civic leaders hold meeting on plan for offshore wind farm

Currently, LIPA can produce at most 6,100 megawatts of power a day, up from 5,000 megawatts three years ago, and by 2010, it is projected that Long Island will need 7,500 megawatts a day to meet Long Island’s energy demands.

There is little dispute that Long Island’s need for electricity is growing, and that the Long Island Power Authority, charged with keeping the lights on, faces a major challenge. What is in dispute, however, is how LIPA is going to meet that challenge.

One way is to build a wind farm in the waters off of Jones Beach which, if constructed, would generate approximately an additional 140 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 44,000 homes. And while LIPA officials acknowledge that this is just “one small step” in its plans to generate more power for Long Island, opponents say the project is misguided and needs to be stopped.

The two sides met at a public forum January 17, at Massapequa High School, one of several held over the last six months. A similar meeting was held at Amityville High School last fall.

“I was against it walking in here and I am against it now as I walk out,” said one resident, Richard Rindos. “It will be unsightly, bad for navigation and commercial fishing and it is going to hurt our economy.”

“I am still not sure,” said Dee Lambert who went to the meeting to get some answers. “This is a heated issue and I see both sides, but to me the bottom line is that we need energy.”
... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  
There is little dispute that Long Island’s need for electricity is growing, and that the Long Island Power Authority, charged with keeping the lights on, faces a major challenge. What is in dispute, however, is how LIPA is going to meet that challenge.

One way is to build a wind farm in the waters off of Jones Beach which, if constructed, would generate approximately an additional 140 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 44,000 homes. And while LIPA officials acknowledge that this is just “one small step” in its plans to generate more power for Long Island, opponents say the project is misguided and needs to be stopped.

The two sides met at a public forum January 17, at Massapequa High School, one of several held over the last six months. A similar meeting was held at Amityville High School last fall.

“I was against it walking in here and I am against it now as I walk out,” said one resident, Richard Rindos. “It will be unsightly, bad for navigation and commercial fishing and it is going to hurt our economy.”

“I am still not sure,” said Dee Lambert who went to the meeting to get some answers. “This is a heated issue and I see both sides, but to me the bottom line is that we need energy.”

Civic leaders—Wally D’Amato of Nassau Shores, Phil Healy of Biltmore Shores, Mark Snider of Harbor Green and Tony Manougian of Shoreville Civic Association—called the meeting to bring greater public awareness to the proposed project, and to get some answers from LIPA.

Healy, said that any project with such a major impact on esthetics and the environment that will generate such a minuscule amount of Long Island’s energy needs is giving up too much for too little.

“Is it really worth it when you consider all of the costs, including what it is going to cost ratepayers over the years?” he asked LIPA Chairman Richard Kessel who has attended the local meetings trying to inform the public and push the project.

“In order to take a giant step you have to take a small step and I will be the first to admit that this project is only a small step forward to doing what we need,” said Kessel. “But if you don’t take this step, what are you going to do? That is the question Long Islanders are facing.”

The proposal is for Florida Power and Light to construct, own and operate 4, wind turbines 3.6 miles in the ocean off of Jones Beach. FPL would then contract with LIPA which would purchase the energy generated by the farm. The proposal has become fiscally viable as a result of higher oil prices.

But Healy said he is concerned about “strapping” Long Island ratepayers to a costly project and “desensitizing” them to further assaults on Long Island’s environment. “What you are telling us is that we have to get used to it, like it or not, and that is offensive,” said Healy.

“Would you like a fossil fuel plant here any better?” Kessel shot back. “Because the reality is that we have built huge houses here on Long Island, we want air conditioning, cable boxes, two refrigerators and computers and we can’t have it both ways. We are all responsible for the situation we find ourselves in.”

LIPA said wind power is just part of its portfolio of energy projects designed to increase power to Nassau and Suffolk. It just signed a major deal with Keyspan, is building several power plants and is working to educate the public about conservation. But, added Kessel, it’s not enough.

“With the Keyspan agreement, electric rates are going to be stable for the next couple of years, but once the price for gas and oil goes up all other energy costs will go through the roof,” he added.

Lisa Tyson, director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, which supports alternative energy sources, said her organization has not made a commitment to support LIPA’s wind farm. “Conceptually, we support wind power,” said Tyson, “but at this point we are waiting to delve into all of the information related to this specific project and will be reviewing it as it goes through the next stages, so it is really too early to comment.”

Long Islanders are hit hard by rising energy costs because they rely upon gas and oil for 94 percent of their energy. Nationwide the use of gas and oil to meet energy needs is approximately 40 percent.

“I think we are being used as guinea pigs,” said Manougian, referring to the fact that this project would be the first off-shore wind park in the country.

Snider asked how much noise the turbines would generate and that question was responded to by a LIPA official who said that the sound of the offshore wind and tide would make the noise from the turbines undetectable.

Throughout the meeting Robert Carra, an opponent of the project, held up a sign that read “Yes to EIS.” He asked whether the project would go through an environmental review and whether the public would be involved in and advised of the process. Kessel responded that it would and that he is committed to ensuring that the public is made aware every step along the way.

“We’ve been told that this location is the only one here on Long Island, which means that even if this turns out to be a great project, we can't expand it,” said Bruce Phillips, a resident of Massapequa. “And, since it is going to generate such a small amount of electricity, is it really worth it?”



Source: http://www.amityvillerecord...

FEB 10 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/1273-lipa-and-civic-leaders-hold-meeting-on-plan-for-offshore-wind-farm
back to top