BUFFALO, N.Y. -- New York State should take advantage of a
golden opportunity to become a leader in developing clean,
renewable offshore wind power, an alternative energy source that
could trigger an economic renaissance and a greener image for the
Western New York community, according to a report by a University
at Buffalo Law School clinic.
The report, prepared by the Environment and Development Clinic
in the UB Law School, proposes a strategy that would capitalize on
what its co-authors call "enormous" potential to harness offshore
The report outlines a blueprint for developing clean, renewable
wind power from turbines located in Lake Erie and Lake Ontario in a
prudent, efficient way that would benefit the public and individual
communities. The strategy would create a demand for wind-power
energy, as well as large-scale manufacturing of wind power turbines
and components in Western New York.
"New York's Great Lakes offer the potential for clean, renewable
energy, as well as an opportunity to develop a new industry for the
21st century," says Robert S. Berger, UB Law School professor and
director of its Environment and Development Clinic.
"Western New York's proximity to the Great Lakes," the report
states, "provides an opportunity to again become a leader in the
generation of clean, renewable energy as an engine for regional
economic development and to leverage the region's technology and
manufacturing infrastructure to further an economic renaissance
centered on alternative energy and a reputation as a clean, livable
Berger said the opportunity and interest to build these wind
turbines in lakes Erie and Ontario already exist, and stressed
others will take advantage of that opportunity whether New York
develops a coordinated plan or not. But his report suggests a
comprehensive strategy in which New York can systematically
determine how and where to put wind turbines in Lake Erie and Lake
Ontario for the greater good of the community and its
"Rather than have the uncoordinated process where private
developers just try to place them in whatever way they decide,"
Berger says, "we're advocating a coordinated, comprehensive process
that will allow all interested groups -- citizens, environmental
groups, fishermen -- to come together to develop the best
environmental and civic plan."
The report, released today, does not recommend how many or where
the wind turbines should be built. Instead it points out the vast
energy potential of an industry just beginning to have an impact on
the state's energy needs.
Berger and UB clinic student Dwight Kanyuck, co-authors of the
report, said a similar number of new turbines anchored in the water
could produce several times the power generated by the eight
turbines now operating at the Steel Winds farm located on the
former site of Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna. The eight turbines of
Steel Winds are rated at 20 megawatts of power -- 2 ½
megawatts each -- which supply annual power for about 9,000 homes,
according to the UB Law team. If more turbines are built, the
capacity to produce power increases proportionately.
Even if only 10 percent of the wind power potential for Lake
Erie and Ontario was used, about 8,200 megawatts of electricity
could be harnessed for private and commercial use, according to
Kanyuck. That's more than 400 times the capacity of the eight
turbines operating at Steel Winds, enough power to meet the annual
needs of about 360,000 homes, using the existing scale of
"Eighty-two hundred megawatts would be equivalent to adding the
renewable energy capacity of more than three power plants the size
of the Robert Moses Niagara Hydroelectric Plant," according to the
report. "This level of development would significantly offset the
greenhouse gas, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and mercury
emissions associated with coal power generation and provide a
stably priced supply of energy for years to come."
The report also stresses the economic development opportunities
for communities that embrace offshore wind power. Quebec, for
example, expects to attract more than $4 billion in investment and
generate 1,500 fulltime jobs, with significant expansion possible,
according to the authors.
The report stops short of specific recommendations on how many
or where the turbines should be built. And the report stresses the
environmental implications, including migratory bird paths,
recreation and fishing, of building these wind turbines in the
"The need for a full discussion of these issues is particularly
important because wind turbines would be placed in bodies of fresh
water that are sources of drinking water for millions of people,"
the report states.
But it is unequivocal in its urgency to look at the energy and
economic opportunities as soon as possible. The report also
designates two agencies -- New York State Energy and Research
Development Authority and New York State Power Authority – as
the groups that should implement the policies. The report also
recommends the Wind Action Group, a local wind power organization
that asked UB to prepare the report, should act as an educator and
advocate to move this plan forward.
"We are excited about the idea of fostering a community-based
discussion of how we as a region and state can make the most of
this natural resource," says Robert. Knoer, chairman of the Wind
Action Group, "all in harmony with all of our other goals as a
state and region."
There currently are no offshore wind facilities operating in the
United States. There are offshore projects generating about 1,000
megawatts of power in Europe, according to the UB team.
The UB report also urges the state to provide financial
incentives and power purchase agreements to encourage the
appropriate development of the state's Great Lakes' wind power.
"We're suggesting that there actually be a requirement for local
content that the state puts in its purchase agreement that would
then jump-start a wind turbine manufacturing plant with the
associated component parts," Berger says.
Copies of the executive summary, as well as the full report, are
available at http://www.greengold.org/wind/documents/113.pdf.
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public
university, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State
University of New York. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their
academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate
and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University
at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American
Among American colleges and universities, UB is recognized as a
leader in reducing energy costs through extensive and innovative
conservation measures and in promoting alternative energy sources,
steps. In 2007, the university highlighted and celebrated its
environmental commitment in a semester-long observance, "The
Greener Shade of Blue." During the semester, President John B.
Simpson committed UB to continuing its leadership role in fighting
global warming by signing the American College and University
Presidents Climate Commitment to achieve "climate neutrality." As
part of the development of a comprehensive physical plan to guide
the growth of its North, South and Downtown campuses in conjunction
with the UB 2020 strategic plan, UB has created a Committee on
Environmental Stewardship, underscoring the fact that environmental
stewardship is a university-wide responsibility and effort.
Since its founding in 1887, the University at Buffalo Law
School -- the State University of New York system's only law school
-- has established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded
as a leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum
provides both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical
tools graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace,
wherever they choose to practice. A special emphasis on
interdisciplinary studies, public service and opportunities for
hands-on clinical education makes UB Law unique among the nation's
premier public law schools.