New Jersey Gets the Spark It Needs to Move Offshore Wind Forward

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New Jersey finally has the impetus it needs to move forward on a plan to develop offshore wind that was placed into law eight years ago.

Gov. Phil Murphy yesterday signed an executive order directing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to fully implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) and begin the process of moving the state toward a goal of 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy generation by 2030.

“Little progress has been made on offshore wind development in New Jersey despite a pledge from the previous administration to facilitate our growth of offshore wind,” Murphy said in a statement. “We cannot allow for stagnation in this growing sector of our energy economy, and we cannot lose sight of the tremendous opportunity for offshore wind at the Jersey Shore.”

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed OWEDA in 2010. OWEDA called for the BPU to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate (OREC) program supporting about 1.1 GW of generation from offshore wind projects. Since then, there has been no movement on creating the mechanisms necessary to develop an offshore market for the state.

Murphy’s Executive Order directs the BPU to begin the rulemaking process to fill the gaps in the current regulations governing the OREC program. The order also directs BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe to work together to establish an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan for New Jersey.

Under the order, the BPU will implement the OREC program by approving financial plans submitted by offshore wind developers. After the BPU creates a process to approve those plans, it will issue a solicitation calling for proposed offshore wind projects for the generation of 1.1 GW of power. The order also calls for a study of the potential benefits to regional collaboration on offshore wind.

“This is clearly the best news of offshore wind in New Jersey since the Department of Interior moved forward on the federal auctions of offshore wind leases in late 2015,” Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley said in a statement. “[The auction resulted in] the subsequent successful bids by U.S. Wind and Orsted for nearly $2 million for the rights to construct offshore wind over 344,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey Shore.”

According to O’Malley, the proposed offshore wind lease area (WEA), when fully developed, could power roughly 1.5 million homes. The WEA begins about seven nautical miles off the coast from Atlantic City (A map can be found here) and extends 21 nautical miles off the shore.

Lead image credit: CC0 Creative Commons | Pixabay

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