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N.Y. okays largest U.S. offshore wind farm off Long Island

N.Y. okays largest U.S. offshore wind farm off Long Island

State hopes to build 1GW of wind power off its shores

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has approved what will be the largest U.S. offshore wind farm when it's built off the east end of Long Island. It will generate enough electricity to power more than 50,000 homes on Long Island's South Fork.

The South Fork Wind Farm will consist of 15 wind turbines with 90 megawatts (MW) of capacity. While the project still needs to complete its permitting process, construction could start as early as 2019 and it may be operational as early as 2022.

The approval of the South Fork Wind Farm, to be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk, is the first step toward developing 1,000 megawatts (1 gigawatt) of offshore wind power, Cuomo said in a statement.

Block Island Wind Farm Deepwater Wind

The Block Island Wind Farm began producing electricity for New York last month.

The wind farm approval comes two weeks after Cuomo's State of the State Address,  during which he called for the development of 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. The 2.4 gigawatt target, which is enough power generation for 1.25 million homes, is the largest commitment to offshore wind energy in U.S. history, Cuomo said.

Cuomo wants New York state to get 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

The nation's first offshore wind farm, the Block Island Wind Farm, went live last month. Both the Block Island and South Fork wind farms are owned by Deepwater Wind, a company based in Providence, R.I.

Deepwater Wind wind farm Deepwater Wind

The South Fork Wind Farm will be located 30 miles southeast of Montauk.

"This is a big day for clean energy in New York and our nation. Gov. Cuomo has set a bold vision for a clean energy future, and this project is a significant step toward making that a reality...," Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski said in a statement. "There is a huge clean energy resource blowing off of our coastline just over the horizon, and it is time to tap into this unlimited resource to power our communities."

Deepwater Wind has also proposed another offshore wind project that would be adjacent to the South Fork Wind Farm. That project still needs the approval of the Long Island Power Authority; it would bring an additional 210MW of wind power to Long Island.

Deepwater Wind wind turbine Block Island Deepwater Wind

The final blade being attached to a turbine of the Block Island Wind Farm.

What was supposed to be the nation's first offshore wind farm, the Cape Wind Project, has been hampered with financing and permitting problems. The Cape Wind project, to be located in Nantucket Sound off Cape Cod, Mass., would have easily dwarfed the wind farms to its south with 130 turbines and a total of 468MW of capacity (1,500 gigawatt hours of electricity per year). That project was slated to cost $1.6 billion.

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