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Chuck Schumer joins calls to build wind turbine plant in Sunset Park

wind turbine plant
Sen. Chuck Schumer joined Sunset Park environmentalists in calling on the state to help turn a Sunset Park port into a wind turbine assembly plant.
Photo by Dean Moses

Sen. Chuck Schumer joined elected officials on Monday morning to demand that Sunset Park’s South Brooklyn Marine Terminal become the home of an offshore wind turbine assembly plant. 

“This is the dawn of robust renewable energy here in New York and here in Brooklyn,” Schumer said. “These are the kind of jobs that are created and are thoughtful that we should be pushing for. I’m going to do everything I can to get this done.” 

The 72-acre Sunset Park terminal, located just south of Industry City, is one of several ports under consideration to become a turbine assembly hub as part of New York State’s effort to increase its dependence on renewable energy.

Earlier this year, the state asked energy companies to submit proposals to build wind farms off the coast of the northeast that would be used for New York State’s consumption. The solicitation process, which mirrored a similar solicitation one year ago, drew bids from three different energy companies, whose proposals are currently under evaluation by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

Each proposal had to commit not only to creating more than 1,500 megawatts of clean energy, but also to transforming a New York State port into an assembly plant used to build the turbines — which are each as tall as the 77-story Chrysler building.

The winning bid will receive will receive $100 million in grant funding, $100 million in low-interest financing and private sector matching funds — as well as $200 million in state funding towards infrastructure upgrades for the port.

Norwegian energy company Equinor, which submitted two bids for the offshore wind solicitation, named the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal as its proposed wind turbine assembly plant and shipping location. Schumer agreed that the terminal is the right place for the job. 

“Selecting the Sunset Park terminal would offer significant opportunities for job creation, workforce development, and overall economic investment in the community — all good things for Brooklyn,” Schumer said at the Dec. 28 press conference.

The terminal is well-suited for the state funding because of its close proximity to Equinor’s wind farms and because the city has already made a $50 million commitment to upgrade the site, advocates say. 

The new assembly hub would also revive the vacant South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, which has been closed for 20 years, and bring a needed economic boost the community hard-hit by COVID-19 by creating “thousand” of manufacturing jobs, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said. 

“Many people ask, ‘Where are the green jobs?’ That’s what we are asking. They can be right here if NYSERDA just allows the $200 million to be put on top of the investment that was already here,” said Williams, who first called for the state to invest in the port in November and joined the senator at Monday’s press conference.

“Making this part of the offshore wind supply chain would mean loads of local jobs and clean technology manufacturing jobs that have growth potential,” he said. “This is a plan with a future.”

A spokesman with NYSERDA said that the winning bids will be announced in early 2021.

“NYSERDA is in the process of evaluating bids received in response to its solicitation in accordance with the New York State Public Service Commissions’ prescribed criteria of robust pricing, project viability, and the ability to maximize economic benefits to New York State, including investment in one or multiple New York port facilities,” said spokesman Aron Ashrafioun.

Also in attendance Monday were Sunset Park City Councilman and mayoral candidate Carlos Menchaca, and Elizabeth Yeampierre, the director of environmentalist group Uprose.

The offshore wind procurement is part of the state’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), which requires that 70 percent of the New York’s energy be derived from renewable energy sources by 2030, and that 35 percent of the benefits go directly to disadvantaged communities. 

Schumer, who supported the passage of the ambitious climate legislation in 2019, said that funding a wind turbine plant in Sunset Park is the logical next step to achieving these goals. 

“Let’s open this door and let the wind be at Brooklyn’s back,” he said. 

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