Wind energy is coming to the coast of NYC, and Rockaway community advocate Joe Hartigan wants to make sure his neighborhood gets a piece of the burgeoning industry.

“Having a job can make a big difference in life,” the retired New York City Fire Department lieutenant said. “We’ve got a lot of unemployment in Rockaway.”

Hartigan, known in the community for his dogged pursuit of ferry service to the peninsula, has been following an informational road show about New York’s multi-million-dollar investment in wind energy. In July, Governor Cuomo announced contracts with two power-generating companies to produce 1,700 megawatts of wind power – enough electricity for about 1 million homes. And this month the two companies, and the state agency that will oversee them, held open houses in Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk and Nassau counties.

Hartigan drove about 40 minutes from his home in Rockaway to attend the session at the municipal recycling facility in Sunset Park, Queens.

“The windmills are going to be off of Rockaway,” he said, “and I want the work boats to run out of Rockaway, so the kids in Rockaway can get those jobs."

Listen to reporter Fred Mogul's story for WNYC:

In all, there will be about 80-100 offshore wind turbines in two plots, about 14 and 30 miles off the New York Coast. (The former is planned for a site in the Atlantic located roughly across from Long Island and part of Queens; the latter will be east of Montauk.) By 2035, the state aims to have 9,000 megawatts of wind-generated electricity, enough to power one-third of the state — a significant chunk of the longer-term goal to end carbon-emissions by 2050.

The informational sessions have attracted people curious about job opportunities and environmental impacts — or who just want to know more about what goes into wind power.

“We’ve been very pleased with the interest,” said Doreen Harris, a vice-president at NYSERDA, the state’s Energy Research and Development Authority.

Hartigan, though, was not pleased with the answers he was getting about job prospects for his particular coastal community.

“They keep telling me, ‘Maybe in the next phase,’ and I keep telling them, ‘That’s not good enough,’” he said. “It has to be in this phase.”

Julia Bovey, who represents one of the wind energy companies, Norway-based Equinor, said she admires Hartigan’s drive and appreciates input from all the boosters like him – but often she has to be the bearer of bad news.

“You start with a lot of possibilities, and then you start whittling down,” she said. “And each one you eliminate, is very hard.”

Standing in front of a series of posters on easels, Bovey faced several interrogators. One of them, Christopher Taylor, owns a gourmet chocolate factory in Sunset Park. While he’s very supportive of the offshore wind project, he said he’s also very concerned.

“To handle 800 megawatts, you need a massive substation -- you’re talking about acres and acres of land,” said Taylor, who’s been down to Texas to inspect wind turbine infrastructure. “I’ve been trying for a year, and no one’s giving us answers about how big this substation is.”

Taylor has participated in a local task force to preserve the local industrial zone, including the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, fending off developers who were itching to get their hands on the waterfront property. He believes in green energy, but he doesn’t want to see the limited space gobbled up by a massive electricity plant.

“I can’t tell you it’s going to be x, y or z size, but it’s not going to be 40 acres,” Bovey said. “We’re pushing the engineers to make it compact.”

She said she sympathized with the difficulty Taylor had in getting his questions answered, but many variables – very significant variables – are still very up in the air.

But there was some good news.

“We have the most preliminary drawings coming out – I’m not kidding you -- this week,” Bovey said. “We’d love to sit down with you and your task force … to show you all our ideas and how we hope to work it out.”

Taylor thanked her and referred her to task force leaders on the City Council and in the local Economic Development Corporation. But he also gave her a little warning about the importance of being transparent.

“When we were working on [preserving] the marine terminal, and we weren’t getting answers, that brought all the sides together – and this is Sunset Park, where no one agrees on anything,” he said. “I like to think we’re constructive, but if you don’t give us information [about the project], we’re going to oppose it.”

Bovey replied by repeating a refrain from Harris and her colleagues, earlier in the evening: it’s still early days in the process; there will be more meetings and hearings to come, as well as other opportunities for input; please weigh in early and often — and keep us accountable.

Fred Mogul is the Albany and politics reporter for WNYC. You can follow him on Twitter @fredmogul.