All across the country, Americans are trying to embrace greener lifestyles. From ditching plastic bags and straws for reusable options to using one of the 100,000 species of natural wood in the world instead of vinyl or linoleum to create home flooring, we’re at least attempting to reduce our carbon footprint and make use of the renewable resources available to us. Some homeowners are embracing solar energy instead of conventional electricity, as well. Since heating and cooling make up 54% of annual utility bills, switching to solar panels can reduce energy costs and environmental impact. In fact, experts say that if the energy efficiency of commercial buildings was improved by 10%, it would save roughly $40 billion.
But, of course, it’s not just up to individuals and single corporations. Legislative changes need to be made in order to keep municipalities and businesses in check. And although U.S. federal policy may be shifting away from environmental responsibility, many states are stepping up to the plate in an effort to save the planet. Now that New York has set one of the most expansive climate change goals in the nation, pledging to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 85% below levels from 1990 by 2050 and to receive 70% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2030, the state needs to start putting plans into motion.
Now, New York has taken a pivotal step in promoting renewable energy. Although steam turbines have been used since the 1880s for electricity production, it’s wind turbines that are poised to be the newer, greener alternative. As such, the Empire State recently awarded two offshore wind contracts for projects to be built off the coast of Long Island. Wind farms are already a major energy source in the U.S., providing 7% of all electricity last year. But as Americans’ need for energy continues to grow, the nation will need to increase its capacity. Roughly 22% of all electricity generated in the U.S. is used merely for lighting, and the existing turbines throughout the U.S. are located on land, rather than off-shore. Since off-shore turbines provide greater consistency and strength, the Long Island location seems ideal.
One of the turbines will be located 14 miles south of Jones Beach, with the other being situated 30 miles north of Montauk. These Long Island off-shore wind projects are slated to begin operation within the next five years. Eventually, they will have the capacity to produce 1,700 megawatts of electricity. A division of Norwegian oil and gas company Equinor will build the turbine project near Jones Beach, which will be known as 816 MW Empire Wind facility, while the Montauk-adjacent turbine project, known as the Sunrise Wind project, will be created thanks to a partnership between U.S.-based Eversource Energy and Danish company Orsted. If all goes well, their energy production capacity will represent 20% of Cuomo’s slated goal for offshore wind generation.
During the announcement of the projects, which would bring 1,600 jobs and $3.2 billion in economic activity to New York State, Cuomo explained in a statement: “With this agreement, New York will lead the way in developing the largest source of offshore wind power in the nation. Today we are true to the New York legacy — to lead the way forward, to govern with vision and intelligence, to set a new standard and to match our words with action.”
Added Joe Martens, New York Offshore Wind Alliance Director, “This is an epic milestone in New York’s tradition of environmental leadership. New York State has moved quickly and deliberately in its quest to transition to clean, renewable energy and today’s announcement demonstrates the state’s resolve to take advantage of the steady winds far off its coast to reduce air pollution, create jobs, and establish New York as the epicenter of a new American industry.”