GJC Sues Long Island Power Authority and South Fork Wind

The Government Justice Center (GJC) has filed a complaint on behalf of Long Island ratepayers against the Long Island Power Authority and South Fork Wind, formally known as Deepwater Wind South Fork, for violating New York State’s procurement laws. 

Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) requested proposals for local resources to meet peak electrical demand during summer afternoons and evenings when residential air conditioning use drives electricity demand on Long Island’s South Fork. Any power production resource needed to be available on demand and could not require new transmission facilities.

Instead, LIPA accepted South Fork Wind’s proposed project for offshore wind turbines that will cost LIPA’s customers an estimated $1.6 billion for renewable energy over 20 years, at a substantial premium per kilowatt hour to other power sources.

“LIPA should have rejected the offshore wind proposal upon receipt because the project did not meet any of the specifications—one cannot simply flip an ‘on’ switch and generate power from a wind turbine when there is no wind.  When we need power most in the summer, wind cannot reliably provide that power,” said Simon Kinsella, the lead plaintiff in the case. “There is no doubt that LIPA manipulated the process to preclude truly competitive bidding.”

After public pressure from former Governor Andrew Cuomo, LIPA signed a power purchase agreement with South Fork Wind for an offshore wind project that was not responsive to LIPA’s RFP. Not only is the offshore wind project not a local resource–it is located 30 miles off Long Island, but it can provide power only intermittently (especially during the summer months) and requires a new 60-mile long onshore/offshore transmission system and related infrastructure. 

“Violating the state’s procurement laws to shoehorn an uneconomical offshore wind power to be funded by LIPA customers is no way to meet the state’s renewable energy goals,” said Cameron Macdonald, executive director of the Government Justice Center. “Not only is this a waste of valuable taxpayer resources, frankly it smells like government manipulation.”