NEW YORK - The New York Power Authority on Tuesday issued a request for proposals for the development of 120 to 500 megawatts of offshore wind power projects in the state waters of Lake Erie and/or Lake Ontario.

In June, NYPA selected five firms to perform studies for the Great Lakes wind project, which was first proposed in April 2009.

The project would generate much needed Upstate jobs and help the state and its governor, David Paterson (D), meet ambitious renewable power goals and the region's greenhouse gas reduction efforts.

New York's renewable portfolio standard requires 25 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2013, while the governor set a goal of 45 percent of the state's power come from energy efficiency and renewable resources by 2015.

New York is a member of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which uses a cap and trade program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. Wind power produces no carbon dioxide.

But offshore wind power is not cheap.

The overnight cost (the cost of a project if no interest were incurred during construction) of an offshore wind farm is about $4 million per megawatt versus, which is about twice as much as a land based wind project, according to industry estimates.

A combined cycle natural gas plant meanwhile costs just about $1 million a megawatt.

The wind power would likely be sold to NYPA and other customers, the state owned generator said in past releases.

Several firms want to build wind power facilities in New York. The state power grid operator said earlier this year it was studying proposals to interconnect more than 8,000 MW of wind projects. Of course, most of those projects will not be built.

New York already has more than 1,200 MW of wind power capacity, most of which was built over the past year or so in part to capture substantial federal and state incentives.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)