Offshore wind study in New York could help siting process

 A report issued recently should help New York with its twin goals to develop its offshore wind resources while avoiding environmental risks to natural habitats along its coastlines.

For two years a study was done to measure potential impacts and guide development, which culminated in the recent release of a report.

The study,” A Biogeographic Assessment of Seabirds, Deep Sea Corals and Ocean Habitats of the New York Bight,” is intended to help the state identify favorable wind energy development sites in the Atlantic and protect critical offshore bird and fish habitats.

Siting projects is expected to be streamlined as a result.

The report was created by the New York Department of State’s Ocean and Great Lakes Program and NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) to compile and interpret existing ecological information the state needed for offshore renewable energy planning.

“By 2013 New York plans to develop an amendment to its federally-approved Coastal Management Program to organize information and support offshore spatial planning,” the report says.

The report will help coastal managers better understand the interactions between renewable energy development and natural resources, and reduce uncertainties for investors in renewable energy projects, the report adds.

New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales said, “We believe this work will serve as an important asset for New York’s offshore planning discussions and ultimately, help us meet our state’s renewable energy goals.”

Key findings include understanding the biodiversity, habitats, resources, and ecological processes of seabirds, deep-sea corals, sponge habitats, as well as seafloor sediments and bathymetry, and identification of data gaps in the study area. 

Maps were created for use by industry, federal and state mangers.

Information from this study, one of several regional studies underway at NCCOS, will serve as a model to support inter-state planning initiatives launched by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean. The regional government council works to maintain and improve the health of ocean and coastal resources, and ensure that they continue to contribute to the high quality of life and economic vitality of the region.