In March, New York City’s newly elected mayor, Eric Adams, announced that the major metropolitan city would turn one of its largest terminal ports into a wind generation site.
The terminal, South Brooklyn Marine Terminal (SBMT), will serve as a maintenance and operation base for two new groupings of wind turbines, which will be located in the Atlantic Ocean off of Long Island.
The projects, coined the Empire Wind Project and Beacon Wind, respectively, will make New York City home to one of the country’s largest offshore wind farms and will accelerate the city’s progress in meeting its 2040 goal of 100% clean electricity.
SBMT itself will not house the wind turbines. Still, the port, which continues to be operational, will be the primary sourcing and operations hub for both of the projects and a power interconnector for the Empire Wind Project. The projects will ultimately provide 13,000 local jobs as well.
“The winds of change are at our back,” Adams remarked in a seven-minute speech given from the riverside port on a windy day. A tugboat battled swelling whitecaps in the channel behind him, perhaps foreshadowing wind energy’s success in the region. He continued, adding that New York was moving towards a clean future as both a city and state.
In order to achieve these goals, the port will undergo significant investments, renovations, and additions, totaling $57 million, a fraction of the $191 million that New York City has committed to offshore wind energy on the whole for the next fifteen years.
“With this investment, the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal will soon be transformed into one of the largest offshore wind port facilities in the nation,” Mayor Adams said in a statement, he continued, adding that the port, “is a transformative moment for New York City and our clean energy future — a future of sustainable power, good-paying jobs, and climate justice.”
The Brooklyn-based port will continue to serve as a hub for intermodal shipping and storage, and its incorporation into clean energy operations is just the newest of a series of investments by New York in the port. In spring 2018, the state invested capital and organized commercial partnerships to increase the port’s bandwidth, as much of the space was being underutilized or completely unused.
New York City has contracted with two independent wind development companies to lead the project. Equinor will be responsible for both projects, expecting to spend between $200 and $250 million on the port and wind farm’s construction. Other developers may work under Equinor, but those companies have not yet been publicized.
In addition to Equinor, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) – the body responsible for organizing the deals – has contracted with community support workforce training programs in hopes to target minority and woman-owned business enterprises as contractors for the programs. Clean energy jobs, particularly roles focused on manufacturing and operations, skew male – a trend that the city’s mayor hopes to go against by hoping to fill roughly 30% of these jobs with minority and women-run companies or individuals.
“We are … advancing economic recovery and increasing diversity in waterfront construction by helping local minority- and women-owned business enterprises benefit from the growing offshore wind industry and allowing them to take advantage of the green jobs of the future,” said Lindsey Greene, executive vice president for NYCEDC.
Mayor Adams similarly dwelled on the jobs that would be generated by the sustainable initiative, saying that the people of New York will benefit from the “investment that [New York City] is making” and allow residents to “move into a middle-class lifestyle.”
While 2040 remains the city’s 100% clean electricity target, it has also announced a 2030 goal of 70% clean energy – a prospect that could be more easily met with the port’s new functionality.