Let’s revive GLOW to help meet renewable energy goals
In 2010, the New York Power Authority pulled the plug on its proposed Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) project due to high costs and the weak economy. With a recent request for proposal for new renewable energy sources, it is time to revive GLOW as a key component to meet Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
Many factors have changed since the authority decided to stop GLOW. First, the banking sector has stabilized. No longer undergoing restructuring and bailouts, the health of the financial sector has freed up investment capital at historic low interest rates. Second, the cost of wind power has dropped 73 percent since 2010. Costs for offshore wind production would also benefit from more flexible siting and the potential to increase the size of the turbines. Finally, the 50 percent by 2030 pledge from the governor creates a market for any new wind power developed. Having customers before production, the guaranteed cash flow allows companies to finance at even lower rates.
Before the project was canceled, GLOW had five companies with proposals for projects. Since this time, the only project on the Great Lakes that has gone through regulatory scrutiny is the Icebreaker Wind project, 8 miles north of Cleveland, Ohio. With this project to demonstrate the economics, and to answer environmental and regulatory concerns, reintroducing the GLOW program in today’s economy will surely generate highly competitive pricing.
New York has already committed itself to 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030. Although it is assumed this commitment is for projects off Long Island, there is nothing that says that the Atlantic Ocean is the only option for offshore wind. It’s time to reconsider the Great Lakes bordering Western New York as part of the commitment for offshore wind.
John S. Szalasny