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Empire Wind is First Wind Farm to Get FERC Approval for NYC Interconnect

Empire Wind offshore wind farm
Empire Wind 1 continues to reach milestones as it moves toward its financial investment decision by mid-2024 (Equinor)

Published Mar 13, 2024 8:01 PM by The Maritime Executive

Equinor reports that its proposed New York wind project Empire Wind has become the first offshore wind farm to gain Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approval to connect directly to the New York City transmission system. It is the latest in a series of milestones to move the project toward construction and delivering first power by 2026.

The company is calling it a key step that marks the culmination of a years-long process. They were working with New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) engineers for the planning of power transmission grids and Con Edison, New York’s power company. 

FERC’s approval allows the Empire Wind 1 offshore wind project to connect through the Sunset Park Onshore Substation at South Brooklyn Marine Terminal into the New York City electrical grid. The connection will be at Con Edison’s Gowanus substation making it possible to deliver 810 megawatts of power from offshore into the city’s power supply.

It is the latest step to get the project back on track. Equinor recently acquired full ownership of the project splitting its joint venture with BP and successfully rebid the project in New York’s fourth offshore wind solicitation. Last year, the company moved to abandon the previous power purchase agreement which they said was no longer economic due to increased costs and which threatened to derail the project. Announced as a provision winner on February 29, they now need to reach a new power purchase agreement which is expected to be executed in the second quarter of this year.

 

The connection will be at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal which will become the wind port for the project (Equinor)

 

Empire Wind will be located 15 to 30 miles southeast of Long Island and spans 80,000 acres. It will be built in an area with water depths between approximately 75 and 135 feet. The project is split into two phases, Empire 1 which is nearing its final investment decision in mid-2024, which would provide 810 MW, and an earlier stage proposal for Empire Wind 2 which would provide an additional 1,260 MW.

They acquired the lease for the site in 2017 and with the FERC approval now have most of its permitting completed. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) approved the Construction and Operations Plan last month and New York issued the environmental compliance certificate in December 2023.

Equinor reports it will use project financing, with the financial close anticipated by the end of 2024. They are also planning to bring in a new partner who would share the costs and exposure of the project.

A key element of the plan also calls for the redevelopment of the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, a 73-arce site. They are calling it the largest dedicated port facility for offshore wind which will support the staging and assembly of the wind turbine components. They also plan to use it as the homeport for the first plug-in hybrid Service Operations Vessel (SOV) to support the operations and maintenance of the wind farm.