By Ramona du Houx

February 2, 2021

As part of New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s 2021 State of the State address, he announced the largest comprehensive offshore wind program in the nation. He said that the overall Green Energy Program will create more than 50,000 jobs.

“We are proposing the largest wind programs in the nation and advancing our green manufacturing capacity and the jobs that go with it. Our new energy superhighway will be optimized by state-of-the-art battery storage facilities, so we can store renewable energy to be used when needed. These projects will not only create power but bring needed economic opportunity to struggling parts of our state, create green jobs, and make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse,” said Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.

“Green energy is a pressing moral imperative and a prime economic opportunity. New York can and will be the nation’s leader for renewable energy innovation and production, all while securing jobs of the future for New Yorkers. Our entire Green Energy Program will create a total 12,400 megawatts of green energy to power 6 million homes, directly create more than 50,000 jobs, and spur $29 billion in private investment all across the state.” 

The ambitious offshore wind plan takes into account major issues that some other states that have offshore wind programs have not taken measures in. New York’s plan includes: training in the various vocations needed, ways to transmit the electricity from the offshore wind turbines to locations across the state without relying on the national grid alone, storage of the electricity, some ports having the capacity and structural integrity to become large and deep enough to support turbine deployment, and the manufacturing base needed to build the turbines. The comprehensive approach makes New York State’s plan the first of its kind in the nation.

In 2021, New York will contract with Equinor Wind US LLC for the development of two new offshore wind farms more than 20 miles off the shore of Long Island. Upon completion, the two offshore wind farms will yield a combined 2,490 megawatts of carbon-free energy, bring another $8.9 billion in investment, and create more than 5,200 jobs. 

Once the large-scale renewable and offshore wind farms are complete, more than half of New York’s electricity will come from renewable sources, on target for reaching its goal of 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. 

Plans to make New York State a global wind energy manufacturing powerhouse include upgrades to create five dedicated port facilities.

The projects will leverage almost $3 of private funding for every $1 of public funding, for a combined $644 million investment in these port facilities, and will yield 2,600 short- and long-term jobs in the offshore wind industry.

“New York is one step closer to a cleaner environment and a more sustainable community for all,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer after the State of the State.

Wind hubs will help meet environmental justice goals of New York’s 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act

COVID-19 hit New York the hardest back in the spring of 2020 and the economy for all but the 1 percent and those who invest in the stock market is struggling. Middle income and low-income people are hurting. Millions of jobs have been lost, many won’t return. Governor Cuomo’s Green Energy Program address climate crisis while building back the economy, creating new improved futures.

Along with the new turbines, the project will launch manufacturing and assembly hubs at ports in Albany and New York City’s Sunset Park, as part of a contract with Equinor, a Norwegian-based energy company that specializes in oil, gas, wind, and solar.

The governor emphasized that jobs are aimed to help communities hit by systemic racism. “Our efforts will deliver to environmental justice communities, and benefit all New Yorkers by securing our carbon-free climate future,” he said. “With this plan, New York state will now have five active port facilities serving the offshore wind industry—more than any other state.”

Cuomo’s announcement will meet the goal of 9,000 megawatts by 2035 as mandated by the CLCPA, which he signed into law in July 2019. The law set the state goal reach 70 percent renewable energy by 2030 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050. The law also requires 35 percent of green energy funds to be invested in low-income, communities of color, with goals to reach 40 percent.

“The plan announced in the State of the State address is a quantum leap forward,” said Joe Martens, director of the New York Offshore Wind Alliance. “Here we are less than two years out and the state has contracted for almost half of the CLCPA requirement.”

The Port of Albany project is projected to create 500 construction jobs, and 300 highly-skilled full-time jobs to build the 450-foot-tall turbine towers. According to Equinor, the Sunset Park facility will serve as an assembly, operations, and maintenance site for the turbines, where 1,000 short-term and 200 long-term jobs would be created. The company said this facility at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal would be the “largest dedicated offshore wind port” in the nation at about 73 acres.

“These projects represent high-paying jobs, billions of dollars in investment, and will create a clean energy economy putting people who are hungry to be trained in good paying jobs. The project in Sunset Park, I advocated for while in the Assembly,” said former New York State Assistant Speaker Félix W. Ortiz. “The community, in my former constituency, is about 70 percent Hispanic and Asian and has suffered without economic opportunity for decades. We’ve lived with environmental injustice as a norm, now, with this plan it will finally start to change.”

Equinor won a separate contract to build a wind farm off Long Island in 2019 which is still under construction. The company will now partner with BP, the British oil-and-gas giant, to add two additional sections called Empire 2 and Beacon 1. Equinor agreed last September that BP would be a 50 percent partner in the new projects. In all, ninety turbines will be built 20 miles off Jones Beach and 60 miles off Montauk Point, which won’t be visible from shore.

The awards will bring Equinor’s total offshore wind development plans for New York to 3.3 gigawatts. That’s slightly more than one-third of the 9 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2035 that New York is targeting, the highest yet announced in the region.

Before developing the wind farms, Equinor must study wind conditions and the seabed to prepare for the actual construction of the turbines and their foundation.

New York State Energy Research & Development is awarding $200 million in funds for the project, while private funders will supply another $200 million.

Training the workforce in clean energy technologies—

The State is investing $20 million in a new Offshore Wind Training Institute based at SUNY Stony Brook and Farmingdale State College. The Institute will train at least 2,500 New Yorkers for good-paying jobs in wind and renewable energy.

New York is also investing $700 million in building electrification solutions for approximately 130,000 buildings in the state, including a variety of heat pump technologies, and the training of 14,000 workers for the new heat pump markets. Approximately 25 percent of the workers trained will be from disadvantaged communities or priority populations.  

Building an electrical transition system that will serve all areas in New York State—

In 2021, New York State will construct a new green energy superhighway of 250 miles. The $2 billion project will create opportunities to maximize the use of renewable energy for the parts of the state that still rely on polluting fossil-fuel plants. Construction has already started on the New York Power Authority’s 86-mile Smart Path project from Massena to Croghan, and construction will soon start on several key projects in Western New York, Mid-Hudson, and the Capital Region.  

New York has issued a Request for Proposals for transmission arteries to bring renewable energy from Upstate and Canada to New York City.

Current and planned investments will result in more than 1,000 jobs and $5 billion of public and private sector investment. 

During the past five years the State has contracted for the construction of 68 new large-scale renewable energy facilities including solar farms, onshore wind farms, and three offshore wind farms. These investments in renewable energy have brought economic activity to 34 distinct counties, will add 6,100 megawatts of clean energy capacity to the state’s infrastructure, and generate investment of more than $12 billion.

To build on this progress, New York will contract for another 24 large-scale renewable energy generation projects in 2021, to bring the State’s total clean energy build-out to nearly 100 projects. The 23 solar farms and one hydroelectric facility will be the most cost-efficient clean energy construction to date in New York, producing more than 2,200 megawatts of clean power, generating more than $2.9 billion of investment and creating 3,400 jobs in 16 counties Upstate. 

New York will develop and deploy state-of-the-art renewable energy storage technology and facilities to generate electricity, build the capacity for storage, and help the state achieve its climate plans. The New York Power Authority has already begun construction on a large-scale, 20-megawatt battery storage project in Northern New York.