Atlantic City – Surrounded by the five massive wind turbines that power the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order that will direct state agencies to implement the 2010 Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act to meet a goal of 3,500 megawatts of off-shore wind energy by 2030. The executive order will make New Jersey the national leader for off-shore wind commitments, besting both New York and Massachusetts, which have goals of 2,400 and 1,600 megawatt goals respectively.
The executive order is a marked departure from the Christie era, where after Gov. Christie signed the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act into law in 2010, he let it languish on the shelf for the next seven plus years, worked to kill potential projects, and then ultimately came out against off-shore wind during his ill-fated presidential run.
The executive order also details that upon the completion by the Board of Public Utilities of the Off-Shore Wind Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) application program, the BPU will issue a solicitation of 1,100 megawatts of wind energy, which will be largest solitication to date in the nation, and work to have the BPU update the current off-shore wind regulations The BPU will also be empowered to move forward with an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, engaging key stakeholders.
Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley issued this statement in reaction to the news:
“New Jersey, so long a laggard, is finally leading once more on off-shore wind. We have incredible potential right off the Jersey Shore – we have been sitting on a clean energy jackpot. Gov. Murphy’s executive order puts us on the path to make us the top state in the country on off-shore wind. With the strength of our coastal winds and our prime location, New Jersey is suddenly back on track. Off-shore wind is a key linchpin of moving the state to a 100% clean, renewable energy future and fighting climate change, and that’s why it’s critical to move forward on off-shore wind.
Off-shore wind won’t happen overnight, but Gov. Murphy’s executive order puts New Jersey on track to be the national leader on off-shore wind. There’s a new wind blowing in the Garden State. This will be the start of a process to put the state back into contention to be the East Coast hub for off-shore wind manufacturing and to move forward on one of the largest sources of local clean energy.
As New Jersey fights the disastrous Trump Administration proposal to allow off-shore drilling off the Jersey Shore and the entire Atlantic seaboard, off-shore wind is the clear antidote to drilling. Wind doesn’t spill and weans us off our fossil fuel addition.
Off-shore wind is the most obvious – and yet still untapped – strategy to allow New Jersey to reach its clean energy goals. Off-shore wind also represents a clear win for the clean energy economy because the massive wind turbines create a local supply-chain through the construction, delivery, installation, interconnection and long-term maintenance of these units. New Jersey – because of its geographical location on the East Coast – still represents a tantalizing hub for the off-shore wind industry. More than a decade ago, New Jersey was poised to become a leader in off-shore wind, and even in the early days of the Christie Administration, it looked like New Jersey would establish itself as first state in the nation to move forward on off-shore wind.
Fast forward to the end of the Christie Administration, and the state policy on off-shore wind has remained frozen in amber over the last seven plus years. That era has finally come to an end with the actions of Gov. Murphy. The Governor’s Executive Order will finally put the landmark legislation of 2010 – the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act – to work and force the BPU to move forward to develop an off-shore wind program and a comprehensive plan. Throughout the Christie era, the potential for off-shore wind remained as strong as ever, with a 2016 Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center report labeling it as the strongest wind energy areas on the East Coast, based on data from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
We have come a long way in New Jersey from Gov. Codey’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Off-Shore Wind in 2005, to Gov. Corzine’s commitments to the signing – more than seven years ago – of the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act in 2010 – by Gov. Christie. And we still have a long way to go. But this is clearly the best news of off-shore wind in New Jersey since the Department of Interior moved forward on the federal auctions of off-shore wind leases in late 2015. The subsequent successful bids by U.S. Wind and Orsted for nearly $2 million for the rights to construct off-shore wind over 344,000 acres of the Atlantic Ocean off the Jersey Shore.
The proposed off-shore wind lease area, when fully developed, could power roughly 1.5 million homes. The Wind Energy Area 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.
More than 1.5 million acres off the Atlantic Coast – which include close to 344,000 acres off New Jersey’s waters which were successfully auctioned in 2015 – have already been designated by state and federal officials for off-shore wind power development and more are being considered. These areas could produce more than 16,000 megawatts – including more than 3,500 megawatts from New Jersey alone – of virtually pollution-free electricity. These total areas of off-shore wind development could equal as much as 16 large fossil-fuel burning power plants—making off-shore wind as a clear clean energy solution up and down the East Coast.