- The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) on Wednesday announced it was jointly approving two applications for nearly 2.7 GW of offshore wind generation, the country's largest combined award for offshore wind generation.
- The board approved Ørsted's application for a 1,148 MW Ocean Wind 2 project and a 1,510 MW project from Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture from Shell New Energies and EDF Renewables. That brings the state's total approved capacity to more than 3,700 MW.
- Joseph Fiordaliso, NJBPU president, said the approval, coming amid extreme heat across the country, "further[s] the dream many of us dared to dream years ago … to see offshore wind development off the shores of New Jersey." The five-member board unanimously approved the two projects.
Gov. Phil Murphy, D, has pitched offshore wind as a key way to meet the state's goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 and has set a goal of 7,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035. Murphy has also worked to make New Jersey a manufacturing and development hub for the offshore industry, promoting a 200-acre "wind port" in Salem County where the state could ship components to other markets.
Rob Freudenberg, vice president of energy and environment at the tri-state Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit civic organization, said the announcement shows New Jersey "will put its money where its mouth is" for clean energy, both in production and generation.
"This reverberates up and down the supply chain and sends a signal to companies that New Jersey is truly in the business of offshore wind," said Freudenberg, who was previously a coastal management fellow at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "This announcement says the jobs are coming, the industry is coming and there's a whole ecosystem of companies and communities that will benefit."
The two projects will create an estimated 7,000 full- or part-time jobs, according to NJBPU. Both companies have also committed to building assembly facilities at the state's wind port, a marshalling facility set to begin construction in late 2021. The projects will also take advantage of a manufacturing facility for offshore turbine foundations at the Port of Paulsboro in southern New Jersey.
The announcement "is a win for workers across New Jersey who will be poised to lead in our state's offshore wind and the burgeoning green economy," Greg Lalevee, business manager at a New Jersey division of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 825, said in a press release.
The second New Jersey solicitation also advances federal offshore wind goals. The Biden administration in March announced a goal of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 and 110 GW by 2050. In May, the Interior Department approved the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, and more projects are pending federal approval.
However, there has been concern about the effect the offshore wind development could have on electricity bills. Even though NJBPU commissioner Dianne Solomon approved the projects, she said that the new power could be expensive, adding that the state "cannot afford to further decrease its tax and ratepayer base by being a cost-prohibitive place to live and do business."
Freudenberg said the state should take steps to make sure the most at-risk citizens are not hit by increased rates, but that the net benefits of cleaner air and reduced carbon emissions "on the whole will improve the lives of people up and down the state."
David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, said the announcement means that New Jersey "is now firmly at the heart of the American offshore wind industry."
"We're thrilled to grow this global industry alongside the State of New Jersey, as well as help all communities in the State benefit from the offshore wind industry," said Hardy in a press release.