It can be done, but it would cost billions and take years – and you won’t see any big windmills in Times Square.
That’s what experts said Wednesday about Mayor Bloomberg‘s ambitious proposal to harness the power of the wind for 10% of the city’s electrical needs.
Bloomberg outlined his vision for a skyline and shoreline dotted with turbines Tuesday night. The city is accepting proposals until Sept. 19.
The mayor emphasized Wednesday that the city is at “the very beginning” of the process. He pointedly backed off the idea of windmills atop landmarks.
“Are you going to put a big windmill on the top of the Empire State Building? I think that is very unlikely,” he said.
“Can you put windmills off the coastline? That is highly likely.”
Energy consultants and developers agreed. Bluewater plans to submit a proposal to City Hall for a windfarm out at sea.
Critics said the big windmills could be dangerous and note that the Port Authority rejected a plan to put wind turbines in the planned Freedom Tower at Ground Zero, saying there would not have been enough benefits.
It certainly would be an enormous undertaking considering the city’s voracious energy appetite.
Con Edison delivers about 10,000 megawatts of electricity at any given moment to the five boroughs, hardly any generated by wind power.
To make just 1,000 megawatts, a windfarm would need about 600 turbines – 400-foot high windmills planted 10 miles off-shore, Lanard said.
Bluewater’s Delaware project has 150 turbines and will cost about $1.4 billion – so 600 turbines in a New York project would have a price tag of about $6 billion.
And it wouldn’t happen quickly. Permits, contracts and construction take years.
Cape Wind Associates has been working on a plan for a windfarm off Cape Cod since 2001 and doesn’t expect to be up and running until 2011. Spokesman Mark Rodgers called Bloomberg’s time line of a decade “realistic.”
Bloomberg might be tilting at windmills, though, with the idea of land-based turbines.
Smaller rooftop turbines are a possibility, but they can’t generate the megawatts that a bigger one does to power 700 homes.
Underwater turbines that went online off Roosevelt Island last summer make only enough electricity for a Gristedes supermarket and a parking lot.
“In general, the future of wind energy is definitely off-shore,” Olinsky-Paul said.
Officials said the city has no plans to build or run wind parks, but hopes to reap the benefits of a private enterprise: less greenhouse gas, less foreign oil and possibly lower energy costs.
Lanard said Delaware consumers would pay 70 cents a month over market rate for wind power.
In New York, where energy costs are higher, electricity from windmills might be cheaper than conventional sources, he said.
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