By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
COEYMANS — The economic impact of a major wind-power project at the Port of Coeymans was the focus of the January meeting of a local business group.
The Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Community Business Association hosted a forum with officials from Carver Companies, which owns the port, and a representative from NYSERDA, New York State Energy Research and Development, to discuss how the project will affect the area.
The offshore-wind project, announced by state officials including Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin at a press event at the port in October, is the largest offshore wind supply chain contract award in the state’s history at $86 million.
Orsted Offshore North America and Eversource Energy, which will be tenants at the Port of Coeymans, signed the contract in the fall with Riggs Distler & Company to build advanced foundation components for wind turbines at the port.
The project is expected to create hundreds of manufacturing and construction jobs locally and at a second site in Western New York, Peter Lion from NYSERDA said following the presentation.
“Through the contract that was discussed today with Riggs Distler and the group out of Wellsville, there are 230 jobs between the Port of Coeymans and the facility in Wellsville, which is a New York-based company,” Lion said.
Locally, about 115 jobs will be created in Coeymans in the skilled trades including electricians, carpenters, concrete masons, operating engineers, ironworkers and laborers at the port, Benjamin said in October.
The project will also help in meeting the state’s energy goals identified in legislation enacted in 2019 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase renewable energy usage and put the state on a path toward carbon neutrality, according to the governor’s website.
“This project will help us reach our Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goals — decarbonization, implementation of 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind — but it’s also bringing in jobs and investment,” Lion said.
Eversource and Orsted will handle the secondary steel that will support the offshore wind turbine’s foundations and work with the subcontractor Riggs Distler, who will do the actual assembly of the wind-power components, said Steve Kelly, president of sales and business development for Carver Companies.
“Once they do the secondary steel, it will be stored here, then loaded onto a barge and shipped out to the offshore wind project, where they will actually assemble it on the monopile,” Kelly explained.
Monopiles are steel tubes that are driven into the seabed and support the secondary steel elements — the platforms, ladders and boat landings that are needed to access and operate the wind turbines.
Work at the port is expected to begin later this year, Kelly said.
“Once the permits and so forth are in and construction and the area are ready, we will probably start potentially in fourth quarter of 2022,” Kelly said. “And then the actual assembly of the components will probably be in the first or second quarter of 2023.”
Attracting such a large project to Coeymans will be good for the area, said Bob LaCosta, RCS Community Business Association board member.
“This is about two things — momentum and perception,” LaCosta said. “The perception of RCS as a business community and school district has never been on par with some of our neighboring towns. Perception — it doesn’t mean that the people aren’t good or that the businesses aren’t solid.”
Building momentum and economic growth is another key, he said.
“The second thing is momentum,” LaCosta said. “The momentum of bringing outside interests, both government and business, is intriguing because we are at the center of something that is still developing and that other people don’t know about. As they start to recognize that, the momentum is going to pick up more.”
The next meeting of the RCS Community Business Association will be Feb. 17 at 5 p.m. at Rail to River, 109 Main St., Ravena. The topic will be “Combatting Blighted Zombie Properties.” Cost for the meeting is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Pizza is included and local brews will be available for purchase.