Dan Arvizu1

This paper summarizes an analysis performed by NREL under my direction and supervision to evaluate the potential of wind energy and biomass resources to generate electricity to meet the future energy needs in the area currently supplied by the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant near New York City. This analysis discusses the potential for three sources of wind energy and several sources of biomass, and the underlying assumptions and issues related to the projections of potential.

Some important observations include the following:

  • The technical potentials (market size constrained only by the ability of technology to meet customer need and not by economics or other considerations) for both wind and biomass are very substantial, on the order of 9-10 GW in the Indian Point service area.

  • The achievable potentials for both are significantly less than the technical potential, on the order of 3 GW in 2014, but still substantial enough to replace the Indian Point capacity by that time.

  • Wind systems can be placed in the Hudson Valley right now, and, to a small extent, in the rural areas (northeast) of Long Island, within 10 miles of a transmission corridor.

  • Offshore wind could meet most of the Indian Point load by 2014. Canadian wind and hydro are reasonable options to explore in the meantime.

  • Biomass in the form of municipal solid waste could provide half of the Indian Point capacity in 2014.

  • Studies should continue to resolve wind-related issues such as transmission, dispatchability, siting and permitting, and biomass-related issues such as public perception, improved technology costs, and tipping fees.

Table D-6-1 summarizes quantitatively the potential impact of wind and biomass resources on the Indian Point service area, both in terms of technical potential and achievable potential.

Wind Contribution

Much relevant work has been done recently and is currently underway regarding wind power in New York. This analysis will outline broad issues and deployment options that could be considered as part of the electrical energy and capacity replacement, with reference to the recent work.

In addition to being renewable, wind power has characteristics that are different than conventional, dispatchable resources. First, the “fuel” source is controlled by nature, resulting in variable power output that is not controlled by the utility schedulers and dispatchers. This has two main implications to consider: (1) the capacity credit in the long term and the reliability value of wind to meet peak demand, and (2) the impact of wind variability on grid operations in the short term resulting from increased regulation, load following, and unit commitment burdens on other generators.

Second, the “fuel” cannot be transported. The wind turbines must be located in areas of good wind resource, which may or may not have access to existing transmission lines. Therefore, any comprehensive look at wind power potential must factor in questions such as:

  • Proximity of wind resources to the existing grid,

  • Available transmission capacity on existing lines (temporal profiles can be important),

  • Potential for upgrading capacity of existing lines and existing corridors, and

  • Costs and siting issues for any necessary new transmission connections.

The analysis below broadly discusses three wind-based options, including issues of resource, cost, reliability, and transmission (deliverability). The purpose is to broadly describe what is known, what the quantitative potentials may be, and what remaining issues could be examined to further define the potential.

Option 1: Land-Base, In-State Wind Development


  • There is adequate raw and developable wind resource in the state to generate the energy equivalent of Indian Point, over and above current state RPS needs.

  • In the future, increased hub heights, low wind speed turbine developments, and better wind resource information will likely expand the resource estimate.

  • Site-specific permitting issues may remain, and could be impacted by local and state policy.


  • Generally, land-based bus bar wind costs are in the 3-7¢/kWh range (not including the federal 10-year 1.8¢/kWh Production Tax Credit, which currently applies to projects online by 12/31/05).

  • Costs are expected to continue to decline incrementally due to increased efficiency, taller towers, and manufacturing volume. (However, it should be noted that near-term costs have increased slightly due to the euro exchange rate, cost of steel, and other temporary factors.)


Dan Arvizu is a member of the Committee on Alternatives to Indian Point for Meeting Energy Needs and the director and chief executive of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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