ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Construction has been underway at the Port of Albany where upgrades are being made and the foundation is being laid for a new manufacturing facility that will support offshore wind power. According to Port of Albany CEO Richard Hendrick, it’s never been done in the country before.
“The number one thing to make this unique is, this is pioneering. It’s the first offshore wind tower manufacturing site in the United States,” said Hendrick.
The new facility will have the strongest structural capacity in the U.S. and is expected to hold up to 6,000 lbs per square foot.
But it comes with an equally hefty price tag. It’s expected to cost between $600 and $700 million and there’s a roughly $400 million funding gap right now.
“We’re looking under every rock,” said Hendrick.
The Port of Albany is expecting to create over 500 jobs. And the economic impact is expected to reach neighboring states, according to the port’s Chief Commerce Officer Megan Daly
“When this locates here, there’s other suppliers that will want to be located in and around this region, so we see this as a way to draw other companies as well as manufacturers in the region to be able to support the industry,” said Daly.
Daly said it’s a huge step forward in the renewable energy industry for the U.S. as a whole, adding there are many factors and perspectives to consider.
Many community members have voiced concerns, including tribal nations, nearby residents and environmental organizations.
Last month Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland visited the site and praised the Port of Albany for working with a nearby tribe on the issues they raised.
The Stockbridge-Munsee Community of Mohican Indians reached an agreement with the Port of Albany to keep a treeline in place – to not disturb a sacred site across the Hudson River.
Some proposed structures that will be painted yellow, per industry standards, are what the tribe took issue with.
The agreement will keep vegetation in the area to block the structures from the sacred area’s view.
Bethlemhem residents also took issue with the project. They launched a lawsuit over the location and consultation process but on Thursday a judge ruled in favor of the port.
Hendrick said they’ve followed regulations and have tried their best to mitigate issues.
He said they’ve worked with Riverkeeper to protect aquatic plants for sturgeon and set aside money to relocate their habitat.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Atlantic sturgeon are listed as endangered and are on the brink of extinction.
“It’s hard, but I think that it’s worth it particularly related to the goal of helping with climate change,” said Daly.
Despite increasing costs, much of which are due to inflation Hendricks said, they’re committed to seeing the project through.