NYPA, the largest state-owned power supplier in the U.S., will put out a request for proposals to examine the viability of offshore projects.
The process, which has the support of National Grid Plc, state officials and several environmental groups, could serve as the foundation for one or more wind projects of 120 megawatts or more built by private developers.
New York is the latest Great Lakes state to look offshore as it tries to ramp up the amount of electricity generated from renewable resources. Wisconsin, Ohio and Michigan are looking at offshore potential, while Trillium Power Wind Corp. is developing a wind farm in Lake Ontario off the Canadian coast.
New York Gov. David Paterson has set a target for New York to meet 45% of its electricity needs through renewable energy by 2015. Consolidated Edison Inc. (ED) and Long Island Power Authority are exploring wind generation development off the south shore of Long Island.
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm formed a panel in February to look at offshore wind development in the Great Lakes, including mapping areas best suited for development. A study by the Land Policy Institute at Michigan State University last year concluded the state's portion of the Great Lakes has the capacity to produce 320,000 megawatts of electricity from wind.
Development in Midwest states is concentrated right now on land, but as states require increasing amounts of electricity to come from renewable generators, developers are likely to turn increasingly to offshore projects, said James Clift, policy director of the Michigan Environmental Council.
"It appears our best wind is offshore," he said.
New York saw a three-fold increase in on-land, wind generation capacity last year, according to figures released by the operator of the state's electric grid. New York's installed wind capacity totals 1,274 megawatts, up from 424 megawatts last March, the New York Independent System Operator said.