The Great Lakes of North America are home to significant potential for generating electricity from offshore wind. As it turns out, Chicago is called the Windy City for a good reason, and the winds blow even more consistently over the lakes. A study by the United States Department of Energy found 742.5 gigawatts of potential developable generation capacity in the Great Lakes.
In response to this potential, in 2009 the New York Power Authority announced plans to fund one or more offshore wind projects in the Great Lakes. NYPA's Great Lakes Offshore Wind program (GLOW) issued a competitive solicitation for proposed projects, and received proposals from five potential developers. As NYPA reviewed the bids, repeated delays in its announcement of winners and turnover within the Power Authority leadership pointed to increasing uncertainty about GLOW's future.
This week, the NYPA board voted to terminate the GLOW project. As reported by the Elmira, NY-based Star Gazette, the trustees voted unanimously not to pursue the project at this time. Reasons the board may have considered include local siting opposition and the size of the subsidies NYPA's consumers would have to pay project developers. Under NYPA's model, a 150 megawatt offshore wind project would have received between $60 million and $100 million a year. NYPA staff recommended that such an expenditure was not fiscally prudent at this time.
With GLOW dead in the water for now, offshore wind in New York's Great Lakes waters may not occur for some time. Will other states or provinces be the first to try to capture the Great Lakes winds?