NY - Great Lakes Offshore Wind: Permitting and Contracting Considerations
Great Lakes offshore wind presents a unique set of variables – economic, permitting and regulatory – with which New York State energy policymakers and project developers have yet to grapple.
As part of its October 15, 2020 Order regarding how New York State will reach the goal of 70 percent renewable energy consumption by 2030 under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (“CLCPA”), the New York State Public Service Commission (“PSC”) – in a move that got little attention compared to the Commission’s higher profile Order provisions – authorized and directed the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (“NYSERDA”) within 180 days to commence a feasibility study regarding “stakeholder outreach, analysis, and policy options” for offshore wind facilities in the Great Lakes. The State has spent years performing exhaustive studies, designing programs and running complex solicitations to support offshore wind projects in federal waters of the Atlantic Ocean. But beyond the fact that they both involve wind turbines standing in the water, Atlantic Ocean and Great Lakes offshore wind projects have very little in common. Indeed, Great Lakes offshore wind presents a unique set of variables – economic, permitting and regulatory – with which New York State energy policymakers and project developers have yet to grapple.
Like offshore wind projects in the Atlantic Ocean, federal law governs certain construction activities in the Great Lakes and imposes several risk-mitigation requirements. But New York law governs the use of land under State waters in the Great Lakes, and so State regulatory consideration will be much more central to project siting and construction. Indeed, even in the State Environmental Quality Review Act Findings Statement appended to Commission’s October 15 Order, DPS staff noted that further analysis is warranted regarding potential visual impacts, fish disturbance, commercial and recreational vessel impacts, and impacts on birds and bats.