By Catherine Bowes, National Wildlife Federation Senior Manager for Climate & Energy

Deepwater windOn January 25, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) Board of Trustees voted to approve a contract for the South Fork Wind Farm, a 90-megawatt (MW) project that will produce enough clean, local energy to power 50,000 homes. The project’s 15 turbines will be built 30 miles east of Montauk, New York, in an area of federal waters already leased for wind energy development.

Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm (pictured) is now fully operational. The company is moving ahead with plans to build a 15-turbine project in the waters east of Montauk, NY that will provide clean, locally produced electricity for 50,000 homes.  ©

Most importantly to National Wildlife Federation, developer Deepwater Wind has a strong record of positive stakeholder engagement and environmental protection in the development of their projects – including working closely with us and our partners to take additional steps to protect critically endangered North Atlantic right whales at their historic Block Island Wind Farm completed last year.

In just a few years, we will look back on this vote by the Long Island Power Authority as one of the pivotal decisions that launched American offshore wind power, a new wildlife-friendly clean energy industry that will create tens of thousands of jobs and supply pollution-free electricity right where we need it. The National Wildlife Federation applauds Governor Cuomo and LIPA for this bold leadership in seizing the golden opportunity far off our shores to protect our communities and wildlife from climate change.

For years, LIPA and New York Governor Cuomo have received overwhelming support for offshore wind power from environmental, business, labor, public health, and civic organizations, as well as elected officials on Long Island and across the state. NWF and our state affiliate, Environmental Advocates of New York, have been proud to stand with this powerful coalition, which released this celebratory statement today praising LIPA’s leadership.

American Offshore Wind is Taking Off

As we recently highlighted, 2016 was by far the “Best Year Ever for American Offshore Wind Power” – with the nation’s first project coming online and a historic offshore wind policy passed in Massachusetts. With New York’s strong leadership right out of the gate, 2017 is already well on track to take that title.

The LIPA vote comes just two weeks after Governor Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State speech, where he made a bold commitment to offshore wind power as a key strategy for meeting New York’s goal of producing 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In addition to supporting the South Fork Wind Farm, Governor Cuomo has committed the Empire State to developing enough offshore wind power to supply 1.25 million homes (2,400 MW).

Together, these strategic commitments from New York and Massachusetts will create a regional market for 4,000 MW of offshore wind power, positioning the Northeast to become a hub for a rapidly growing industry that will create tens of thousands of jobs across a range of sectors and ensure a reliable, affordable supply of pollution-free electricity for decades to come. This is not just good for the environment, it is also great news for our economy: offshore wind power prices are dropping dramatically overseas where this booming, mature industry currently supports over 75,000 jobs.

And It’s Great News for Wildlife, too

For over 6 years, NWF has worked closely with offshore wind developers and conservation partners to ensure this clean energy solution becomes a pillar of America’s energy future – and one that models careful protection of marine and coastal wildlife every step of the way.

We were proud to endorse America’s first project – the Block Island Wind Farm – as a shining example of wildlife-friendly energy development, and have high hopes for Deepwater Wind’s second project. In addition to taking extra precautions to protect endangered whales during the construction of the Block Island Wind Farm, Deepwater Wind has signed multiple agreements with NWF and our partners to take a similar approach to ensuring wildlife are protected in the area that will host the South Fork Wind Farm as well as in the Mid-Atlantic region where they have proposed a third project, the Skipjack Wind Farm.

Looking forward, NWF will continue to work closely with Deepwater Wind and all offshore wind developers to ensure that the highest standards of wildlife protection continue to guide America’s pursuit of this critically needed clean energy source. Help us keep up this momentum! Our state leaders along the coast need to hear a resounding call to action to harness the power of offshore wind and to keep wildlife at the table every step of the way.