The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said on Thursday the call to develop offshore wind turbines in the Great Lakes by the New York Power Authority may help open up offshore wind development in the United States.

The United States in 2008 surpassed Germany as the leading producer of wind power, but there are no U.S. installed offshore turbines. All Of the 1,471 megawatts of global offshore wind capacity installed by the end of 2008 was in Europe.

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) call planning help developing wind energy in Lake Ontario and Lake Erie may not lead to the first offshore turbines in the United States, but the fact that a power purchaser is leading the way may help its chances, said Laurie Jodziewicz of the AWEA.

There is a purchaser of power right there and that shows a new level of interest and some new possibilities, said Jodziewicz, the AWEA manager of siting policy and lead offshore wind advisor.

In many cases, the projects are proposed by developers in hopes of finding a utility or agency to buy the power, she added.

The NYPA is owned by the state of New York. The NYPA wants to have within five years at least 120 megawatts of wind turbines in waters off northern New York. Most of them are expected to be in water five miles off shore.

The Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project is expected to cost up to $1 billion. Connie Cullen, spokeswoman for the NYPA, said that no hard numbers are available because no U.S. offshore turbines are installed, but conventional wisdom is that they will cost about 50 percent more to place than turbines on land.


The NYPA is basically in the discussion stage. It officially has put out request for expression of interest from wind turbine developers. After that input is received -- deadline June 15, 2009 -- the agency will formulate rules for more precise requests for proposals in mid-2010, at the earliest.

Cullen said the NYPA will encourage developers to place manufacturing and construction jobs related to the offshore turbines in western New York.

Officials in Michigan and Wisconsin are also looking into Great Lakes offshore wind projects, Jodziewicz said.

Offshore projects on ocean and Gulf of Mexico coasts got a boost on Wednesday when the U.S. Interior Department issued long-delayed guidelines for leasing offshore areas of renewable energy production (

While the new rules by the Interior would not directly effect projects in the Great Lakes, much of what is done in the oceans will be duplicated as far as permitting and revenue collection is concerned in freshwaters, said Jodziewicz.

The AWEA said U.S. total installed wind capacity at end-2008 was about 25,300 MW. In the world, there was about 120,800 MW installed. (Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing Bernard Orr)