Long Island is on the brink of being connected to a massive renewable energy project spread out across the Mid-Eastern United States, renewable energy company Invenergy announced in a press release on Monday. The project, Clean Energy Link (CEL), would connect solar and wind farms in remote areas of Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, and North Carolina to a single 3.5 acre site on Long Island’s South Shore, bringing comparatively cheap renewable energy into New York’s renewable portfolio without consuming Long Island real estate. Invenergy stated the CEL project could be complete by 2020, which, when fully implemented, would triple Long Island’s renewable profile, a major step toward Governor Cuomo’s 50×30 vision.
Bringing solar and wind energy to Long Island is a financial challenge: renewable projects require developing significant amounts of land into energy farms, and Long Island’s real estate is expensive. Invenergy will forego some of those real estate costs by developing the 55,000 acres needed for the project’s farms in remote parts of Mid-Atlantic states, then importing the energy harvested there. Solar and wind farms’ outputs vary with weather conditions, but Invenergy said the CEL would bring in at least 500 Megawatts, with a maximum potential of 701 Megawatts. When fully operational, 68% of the Clean Energy Link’s energy would come from four wind farms, and the other 32% from two solar farms.
Though political support of the CEL project is strong, harvesting energy out of state brings the logistical challenge of getting Long Island connected. Invenergy plans to connect the CEL sites to a regional transmission organization called PJM Interconnection, a grid that connects all or parts of 13 Mid-Atlantic states and Washington, DC. Invenergy partnered with Boston-based company Anbaric to connect PJM to its converter station in Long Island. Connecting the Long Island station to PJM is a technical challenge, as Anbaric will have to re-purpose an underground HVDC transmission line, called the Poseidon Project, for transmitting renewable energy.
Once Anbaric connects Long Island to the PJM grid, Invenergy will be able to expose Long Island to a true renewable energy economy of scale. Expanding access to these diversifications in technology and geography make renewable energy more and more realistic for New York. The Clean Energy Link is a solid step away from debating renewable energy initiatives, and toward actually achieving Cuomo’s 50 by 30 vision.