New York’s Atlantic Ocean Study to Support Offshore Wind Energy (USA)

New York’s Atlantic Ocean Study to Support Offshore Wind Energy (USA)

The New York State Department of State (NYSDOS) yesterday released a comprehensive study on the physical, biological, wildlife and geographic characteristics of the Atlantic Ocean impacting New Yorkers. The results of the New York Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study will lay the groundwork for selecting offshore areas where wind development could be most suitable and appropriate and will serve to help protect habitats important to the environmental health and recreational and tourism priorities of the coastal communities as well as sustaining New York’s ocean-based industries.

“The Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study is a critical first step as New York State seeks to plan for current and future uses of the Atlantic Ocean,” said Cesar A. Perales, New York Secretary of State. “Our coastal communities rely on a vibrant ocean economy and this information will help protect existing industries, while we explore new economic opportunities, such as the development of offshore wind capabilities. We’d like to thank all our partners, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), for their cooperation in helping us conduct this invaluable study.”

“DEC partnered with DOS in this effort to better understand the important resources and uses of the ocean ecosystem,” said New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens. “This information will be helpful as we promote renewable energy development in concert with the federal government. We have populations of endangered species, such as right whales, Atlantic sturgeon and sea turtles and important commercial and recreational fisheries located right off our shores and out to the shelf break. This effort seeks to advance an environmentally sound, planning approach that will recognize important ocean habitat areas as we seek to promote a clean energy future.”

The study draws from four individual reports created for NYSDOS to support offshore ocean planning efforts. Collectively, this information will be a foundation for future site assessment and other relevant research activities, reducing the potential for wasted and duplicative research efforts, saving time and money. In the coming months, NYSDOS will provide the ability to view all the geographic data from these reports on a publicly-accessible online data portal currently under development. The portal will provide an ongoing platform for making available any new data as it becomes available.

Specific highlights of the New York Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study include:

  • New information procured from over a third of New York’s active federally-licensed commercial anglers, indicating offshore areas that are significant to sustaining New York’s fishing industry.
  • New data garnered from New Yorkers who use the ocean for recreation, providing insight that can be utilized for regulatory reviews, planning and other needs.
  • Original data on offshore natural resources predicting where species of potential concern may be located, such as seabirds, which were relatively unknown and difficult to study, yet are important in understanding where to potentially locate offshore wind projects.
  • Information to help identify trends and patterns across seasons and groups of species.

The study includes research critical to advancing one of the action items of Governor Cuomo’s “New York Energy Highway Blueprint“, which outlines recommendations for utilizing public/private partnerships to help transport New York’s aging energy infrastructure into the future.

“The Governor’s Energy Highway Blueprint specifically recommends site assessment in the Atlantic Ocean for the successful development of projects such as the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project,” said NYPA President and Chief Executive Officer Gil C. Quiniones. “The broad scope of updated information compiled in the New York Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study is a valuable resource for the environmentally and economically responsible development of New York’s offshore wind power potential.”

Ocean waters beyond the state territorial boundary of three miles are regulated by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management. This study will provide guidance to BOEM to show New York impacts for any proposed leasing of federal waters for siting of offshore wind projects. The study will also inform the current federal review of the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Project lease application, filed in September 2011 by the New York Power Authority on behalf of the Long Island-New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative, which also includes Con Edison and the Long Island Power Authority.

“This study represents an important step in the process of responsible planning and development of the vast potential wind energy resource in the open waters off New York’s coastline,” said Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown. “Such information will be important in advancing the goals of identifying appropriate criteria for future offshore wind project siting, and expanding the supply of renewable energy from a vital, indigenous source.”

“As outlined in the Energy Highway Blueprint, Governor Cuomo has called to modernize and improve the reliability of our electric grid, and one approach is through further development of the State’s renewable energy resources,” said Francis J. Murray Jr., President and CEO, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. “The New York Offshore Atlantic Ocean Study establishes a solid foundation from which the state can further examine the possibility of wind as a means to add capacity to the grid while at the same time protecting the interests of our coastline communities.”

NYSDOS will continue to make local offshore information accessible to the general public beyond this study.


Press release, July 11, 2013; Image: dos.ny