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Con Ed ponders wind farm off coast of Rockaways

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Con Edison and a Long Island utility are considering whether it is feasible to create wind energy by placing a wind farm at least 10 miles off the coast of the Rockaways, Gov. David Paterson said last week.

The governor said the collaboration came about from his task force on renewable energy and suggested the potential project would have an economic benefit.

"Our state and country are facing massive budget shortfalls," the governor said in a Sept. 24 statement. "Wall Street is suffering, and New York's residents are being forced to make tough financial decisions everyday. This project has the potential to bring investments in clean and renewable energy technologies and create clean-tech 'green collar' jobs. The partnership between LIPA and Con Ed could provide New Yorkers with a cleaner, brighter future, and I look forward to the conclusion of this project."

LIPA spokesman Ed Dumas said the group will look at a variety of factors, including wind velocity, water depth, shipping lanes and whether radar at John F. Kennedy International Airport would be affected.

"If you just don't have the wind speed or the presence of wind, then this is not an option," he said. "We're at the absolute embryonic stages of looking at this possibility. We have no idea if this is going to make sense."

If the wind farms are feasible, Dumas said, "the obvious benefit would be creating a renewable, clean source of energy into the grid."

Con Ed could not be reached for comment.

State Assemblywoman Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach), who represents the peninsula, said she was in favor of renewable energy, but was angered that the governor reached out to Mayor Michael Bloomberg about the project, but she first learned of it through media reports.

"If they bothered to brief the mayor, they should've informed the community," Pheffer said. "People call up and say, 'What is this?' and I have to say, 'I don't know.'"

Still, Pheffer said the project "could be a very good plan," but cautioned that the two utilities have only studied whether the idea is practical.

"There's nothing to like or not like" about Paterson's announcement, she said, "except for the way they did it."

The governor said Con Ed and LIPA will consider suitable locations for the turbines and whether enough wind energy could be created.

If the utilities find that the project can go forward, Paterson said, a request for proposals would be issued and Con Ed and LIPA would share the project's cost and the energy it creates.

He said a similar wind farm project proposed for Jones Beach in Nassau County was scrapped because of cost issues.

Paul Bouillon, a Bayside renewable energy consultant who has installed small wind generators on homes and in farms, endorsed the idea for a wind farm off the Rockaways.

"I think this is the way to go - there is no doubt about it," Boullion said. "This should have been done yesterday, not tomorrow."

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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