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In his 2020 State of the State Address on March 13, 2020, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York announced the support that his state would provide for the construction of 21 large-scale solar, wind and energy storage projects.
The Energy Profile of New York
As the largest northeastern state of the United States of America, New York has the third-largest economy and is the fourth most populous American state.
Over the past several years, New York has become increasingly reliant on obtaining its energy through natural sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy that are derived from the state’s agricultural land and mountainous areas.
For example, the Niagara River, which flows between Lakes Erie and Ontario, is a leading producer of New York’s hydroelectric power. One of the most lucrative hydroelectric power plants in this area is the 2.4 gigawatt Robert Moses Niagara plant located in Lewiston, New York, which is the third-largest conventional hydroelectric plant in the United States.
Hydroelectricity, along with natural gas and nuclear power, accounts for more than nine-tenths of New York’s state electricity generation since 2012.
Other major renewable sources that contribute to New York’s energy supplies include wind, biomass and solar photovoltaic (PV) energy. In addition to the electricity generated within New York, the state also imports some electricity from neighboring states and Canada. With a peak of approximately 20 million megawatt (MW) hours of power obtained from exporting areas in 2004, New York’s electricity exchange with nearby grids supports the reliability and efficiency of its system.
Harnessing Wind Energy in New York
Following hydroelectric power, wind energy is considered to be the second-largest source of renewable energy in New York.
New York’s first wind farm began operating in 2000 and, since then, several other onshore wind farm locations have shown promising potential for energy generation.
These locations include areas east of Lakes Erie and Ontario, the shoreline of Long Island, as well as the peaks of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains.
Notably, the highest wind peaks in New York are located in state parks, which have certain restrictions in place that prevent wind farms from being constructed in these locations.
To continue working towards New York’s goal of harnessing 9,000 MW of offshore wind energy by the year 2035, Governor Cuomo’s latest announcement includes a record-breaking commitment to advancing the development of offshore wind farms.
Four utility-scale wind projects have received awards, which includes three grants allocated to renovating existing wind projects and one award for a new large-scale wind farm called Prattsburgh.
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The Prattsburgh Wind Farm
The Prattsburgh Wind Farm will be located in the southern tier of New York in Avoca, Cohocton, Prattsburgh, and Wheeler.
The wind farm will be constructed by Terra-Gen, which is a US-based power producer focused on manufacturing and maintaining the operation of clean energy power generation facilities, particularly those involved in the harnessing of wind, solar and geothermal energy.
By the end of the project, it is estimated that between 26 to 38 wind turbines will be constructed, along with their transmission lines, access roads and underground cables.
It is also estimated that up to 147 MW of wind energy will be produced once this wind farm is in operation. In addition to providing a new source of wind energy to NYISO, which is New York’s statewide independent system operator, the Prattsburgh Wind Farm will also contribute payments of up to USD 1 million each year to the communities surrounding the power plant.
Wind Farm Redevelopments
As previously mentioned, Governor Cuomo has also announced that three separate awards will be allocated to the redevelopment of existing wind farms, of which include the Cohocton and both Steel Winds wind farms.
TerraForm Power, which will be responsible for repowering each of these wind farms, is expected to increase the renewable capacity at each of these locations.
The Cohocton wind project is expected to have a new capacity of 35.8 MW. The Steel Winds Wind Farm and Steel Winds Wind Farm 2 are expected to have new renewable capacities of 4.8 and 2.6 MW, respectively.
Advancing New York’s Solar Energy Potential
A total of 17 large-scale solar projects have been selected for awards from Governor Cuomo’s recent energy project announcement, repositioning New York as a national leader in solar energy development.
Of these 17 projects, two will include energy storage to further enhance the integration of solar energy into the electric grid.
At least one solar project is expected to begin construction in nearly every region of New York. Within the capital region of Albany, for example, three new solar facilities will be constructed, including Bald Mountain, West River and SunEast Hilltop Solar. Each of these solar facilities is expected to produce 19.99 MW of solar energy.
In central New York, the Garnet Energy Center, which will be handled by NextEra Energy Resources, is expected to provide 200 MW of solar energy and 20 MW of energy storage in Conquest, New York. Within the Finger Lakes region, the Highview Solar Project will be constructed by SunEast development and is expected to produce 20 MW of solar energy.
An additional four solar facilities, which will all be developed by SunEast Development, will begin construction in the Mohawk Valley of New York.
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SunEast Development will also construct an additional two solar facilities in both the North County and Southern Tier of New York, which are expected to produce 19.99 MW of energy.
The North County will also be home to four additional solar facilities, including the ELP Ticonderoga Solar, North Side Energy Center, Sandy Creek Solar, and Greens Corners Solar. Boralex will construct the latter two projects, while ELP Ticonderoga Solar and North Side Energy Center will be constructed by East Light Partners and NextEra Energy Resources, respectively.
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These 21 different energy projects will advance New York’s ambitious agenda to obtain 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030. They will also bring more than 2,000 short- and long-term jobs to the area and increase local tax payments.
Once the projects are completed, it is expected that New York’s carbon emissions will drastically reduce to a number that is equivalent to removing 300,000 cars from the road.
References and Further Reading
New York State (2020) Governor Cuomo Announces Details for 21 Large-Scale Renewable Energy Projects to Deliver Clean, Affordable Energy to New Yorkers. [Online] Available at: https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-details-21-large-scale-renewable-energy-projects-deliver-clean (Accessed on 28 July 2020).
EIA (2019) New York State Profile and Energy Estimates. [Online] Available at: https://www.eia.gov/state/analysis.php?sid=NY (Accessed on 28 July 2020).
Terra-Gen. Prattsburgh Wind Farm. [Online] Available at: https://www.prattsburghwindfarm.com/ (Accessed on 28 July 2020).