Powering New York’s Future: The Truth About Offshore Wind

By Hannah Fowler

In this day and age of internet misinformation, efforts to thwart renewable energy projects are no exception. Unfortunately, factions opposed to offshore wind (OSW) are spreading false information. In this article we will extol the overwhelming benefits of OSW and set the record straight on all the misinformation out there.

Clear Benefits of OSW

Climate Change Mitigation: OSW is pivotal in New York’s efforts to combat climate change, aligning with ambitious targets to reach 70% renewable energy by 2030 and achieve net zero emissions by 2040. OSW projects will generate clean energy for over six million homes, substantially reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

Environmental/ Public Health Advantages: As a renewable energy source, OSW replaces a greenhouse gas-emitting energy source, providing cleaner air and a healthier environment for all New Yorkers.

Economic Boost: OSW projects are set to inject $12.1 billion into the New York economy and create over 10,000 clean-energy jobs, with an average salary of $100,000 per year. This not only fuels local economies, but also reduces dependence on foreign oil, strengthening the state’s energy security.

Busting the Myths

Myth 1: Turbine Construction is Killing Whales/ Posing Risks to Marine Life

One of the most concerning misconceptions is the belief that OSW turbine construction harms marine life, particularly whales. However, the reality is more complex. Global climate change is shifting the distribution of prey that marine species rely on, leading whales to alter their migration routes, sometimes closer to shores. This change increases their vulnerability to ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement. To mitigate potential risks, strict regulations mandate developers to monitor marine life and follow established methods to minimize environmental impact.

Myth 2: Turbines Threaten Bird Populations

Some people worry about the impact of OSW on bird populations. However, research shows that birds tend to avoid wind turbines, and these structures contribute to less than 0.01% of annual bird deaths. It is crucial to keep in mind that other human activities, such as window collisions and domestic cats, pose far greater threats to bird populations, while climate change has negatively affected countless bird species

Myth 3: Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Pose Serious Health Risks

There is concern about the electric and magnetic fields (EMF) generated by OSW electric cables. It is important to note that EMFs are produced whenever electricity is generated, whether it is from wind turbines or household appliances. No conclusive evidence links EMF exposure to harmful health outcomes, and EMF levels from OSW electric cables fall well within New York State guidelines.

Myth 4: Offshore Wind is an Unknown Industry

Contrary to popular belief, offshore wind is not a novel or unproven technology. It has been active in Europe and Asia for decades. England currently has 45 offshore wind farms, Germany has 30 and other EU countries operate many others. This wealth of experience and proven technology should instill confidence in the viability of OSW projects in New York.

Myth 5: Wind Turbines Will Spoil the View and Reduce Property Values

Another misconception is that OSW will spoil the scenic beauty of Long Island beaches, reduce property values, and generate noise pollution. However, research indicates that wind farms are typically constructed 15 to 60 miles offshore, making them virtually invisible and inaudible from the shore. Additionally, studies have shown that wind farms cause no significant change in property values.

Myth 6: Wind Energy is More Expensive than Fossil Fuels

While it may seem counterintuitive, wind energy is among the cheapest sources of electricity. OSW projects not only contribute to a cleaner environment but can also help reduce energy costs, offering an affordable and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Myth 7: OSW Will Harm the Tourism Industry

Research reveals that most beachgoers are indifferent to wind turbines built more than five miles off shore. In some cases, wind turbines can even create artificial reef effects, benefiting sport fishing. Far from harming the tourism industry, OSW may offer new opportunities for eco-tourism and sustainable development in coastal regions.

Offshore wind, combined with land-based wind turbines and solar and hydroelectric power, are all essential in eliminating our dependence on fossil fuels and moving 100 percent to renewable energy.