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Sparks

It’s Groundhog Day for New York’s Offshore Wind Industry

Equinor and Orsted and Eversource won the new, more expensive contracts.

Wind turbines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

New York’s offshore wind industry is back, or at least back in contract. Two offshore wind projects, Empire Wind 1 and Sunrise Wind, were awarded, respectively, to developers Equinor and the partnership of Orsted and Eversource. These two projects, which would amount to 1,700 megawatts of capacity in total (enough to power about a million homes, according to Governor Kathy Hochul’s office), had first been bid out in 2019 and then rebid when these same developers were unable to renegotiate their contracts to deal with rising material and interest rate costs.

Last year was an annus horribilis for the offshore wind industry, with projects cancelled up and down the East Coast and billions of dollars of losses for offshore wind developers. The delayed and cancelled projects have called into question the viability of the Biden administration’s ambitious goal of installing 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.

This year, however, has seen some signs of recovery. For years, the U.S. offshore wind industry was a bunch of plans and a few dozen megawatts of capacity from wind farms off the coasts of Rhode Island and Virginia. Then came Vineyard Wind 1, off the coast of Massachusetts, which started delivering power early this year, shortly after another New York project, South Fork Wind, started up in December of last year.

But merely (re-)awarding the contracts does not ensure that steel goes into the water, let alone that electrons flow into homes. Sunrise Wind will likely be completed in 2026, according to Orsted. Before that the Danish company has to hammer out the details of a new contract, and only then finally decide whether to go through with the thing or not; that’s expected to happen sometime in the second quarter of this year, with federal permitting finished in the summer. Empire Wind 1 has a similar timeline.

According to the governor’s office, utility customers will feel these contracts to the tune of an extra $2 a month. When the projects were first bid out in 2019, the expected impact on utility bills was just $0.73.

Green
Matthew Zeitlin profile image

Matthew Zeitlin

Matthew is a correspondent at Heatmap. Previously he was an economics reporter at Grid, where he covered macroeconomics and energy, and a business reporter at BuzzFeed News, where he covered finance. He has written for The New York Times, the Guardian, Barron's, and New York Magazine.

Beryl making landfall in Texas.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

Hurricane Beryl, ahem, barreled into America’s Gulf Coast as a Category 1 storm, and whenever something like that happens the entire global energy industry holds its breath. The Gulf of Mexico is not just a frequent target and breeding ground for massive storms, it is also one of America’s — and the world’s — most important energy hubs. Texas and Louisiana contains giant oil and gas fields, and the region is home to about half of the United States’ refining capacity.

At least so far, the oil and refining industry appears to have largely dodged Beryl’s worst effects. The storm made landfall in Matagorda, a coastal town between Galveston and Corpus Christi, both of which are major centers for the refinery industry. Only one refinery, the Phillips 66 facility in Sweeny, Texas, was in the storm’s cone, according to TACenergy, a petroleum products distributor. Phillips 66 did not respond to a request to comment, but Reuters reported that the Sweeny facility as well as its refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana were powered and operating. Crude oil prices have seen next to no obvious volatility, rising to $83.88 a barrel on July 3 and since settling around $82.84.

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Sparks

Climate Scored Some Quasi-Victories in Europe

What parliamentary elections in France and the U.K. mean for everyone else.

A voter and wind turbines.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

While America has been distracted by its suddenly-very-real upcoming election, two other important political stories have been unfolding across the pond. The results of last week’s parliamentary votes in France and the United Kingdom have the power to sway global climate policy — and they might even contain lessons for the U.S. about the rise (or fall) of the far-right.

What happened in France?

In June, French President Emmanuel Macron called snap elections, and the far-right National Rally party led by Marine Le Pen was widely expected to achieve a majority in the country’s 577-seat National Assembly. Instead, the New Popular Front, a hastily-formed alliance between the hard left, Greens, and Socialists, came out on top in a runoff, followed by the centrist Ensemble (which includes Macron’s Renaissance party) and the National Rally in a distant third. Because no party won the 289 seats needed to gain control of the chamber, the left and center now have to form a coalition government, which means ideological compromise — something that’s distinctly un-French. “We're not the Germans, we're not the Spanish, we're not the Italians — we don't do coalitions,” one French political commentator toldSky News.

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Green
President Biden.
Heatmap Illustration/Getty Images

In an altogether distressing debate in which climate was far from a main focus, the two candidates did have one notable exchange regarding the Paris Agreement. The 2015 treaty united most countries around the world in setting a goal to limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius, with 1.5 degrees as the ultimate target.

After Trump initially dodged a question about whether he would take action to slow the climate crisis, he then briefly noted “I want absolutely immaculate clean water and I want absolutely clean air. And we had it. We had H2O.”

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