New Jersey utility regulators have issued what officials are calling the largest combined award of offshore U.S. wind generation capacity to date.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) on June 30 awarded a total of 2.658 GW of offshore wind capacity to two groups, bringing New Jersey’s total planned capacity to more than 3.7 GW. The state continues to move closer to Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of 7.5 GW of offshore wind generation capacity by 2035, part of New Jersey’s push to its target of 100% clean energy by 2050.

The NJBPU in a unanimous vote awarded 1,510 MW of capacity to Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, and 1,148 MW to Ocean Wind II. Both projects already committed to investing in New Jersey’s offshore wind industry by building new manufacturing facilities at the New Jersey Wind Port, where they will utilize the foundation manufacturing facility located at the Port of Paulsboro.

Officials on Wednesday said the projects will create “tens of thousands of jobs,” along with “injecting billions of dollars in economic benefits” into the state’s coffers. New Jersey has been at the forefront of supporting the U.S. offshore wind industry, particularly after Murphy took office in 2018 and launched his Energy Master Plan, designed to identify the most ambitious and cost-effective ways of reaching 100% clean energy by 2050. This includes developing the wind port in Salem County, establishing a WIND Institute to coordinate workforce development and research and development in offshore wind, and a $250-million investment in the Port of Paulsboro for turbine component manufacturing.

New Jersey in 2019 awarded the largest single offshore wind solicitation in the country to Ørsted’s 1,100-MW Ocean Wind project, which will be built 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The U.S. offshore wind industry continues to push the development of new projects, particularly along the East Coast. 

100% Clean Energy

“Expanding New Jersey’s offshore wind industry is a major component of achieving our goal of 100% clean energy by 2050, while providing significant opportunities and economic benefits for our state,” said Gov. Murphy in a statement. “By leveraging a whole-of-government approach and the strengths of our state, this award ensures that our investment in clean energy is also an investment in our communities, and will generate good-paying, union jobs and bring valuable investments to New Jersey. Today’s award, which is the nation’s largest combined award to date, further solidifies New Jersey as an offshore wind supply chain hub and leader in the offshore wind industry in the United States.”

Joseph L. Fiordaliso, president of the NJBPU, said, “We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to establish New Jersey as the epicenter of a new industry that will provide tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefits when we need it most. Under Governor Murphy’s leadership, we have made significant progress toward our goal of 7,500 MW of offshore wind by 2035 and will continue fighting for a clean energy future that benefits all New Jersey residents, improves public health, mitigates climate change, and bolsters our economy with sustainable, good-paying jobs.”

Opposition to offshore wind projects often comes from groups, including environmentalists, concerned about the installations’ impact on fishing lanes and the overall offshore environment. However, Shawn M. LaTourette, a Dept. of Environmental Protection commissioner, applauded the projects, as did other environmental advocates.

“It is an exciting time for clean energy in New Jersey thanks to Gov. Murphy’s leadership,” said LaTourette. “The responsible development of offshore wind will help New Jersey reduce the worsening effects of climate change while creating family-sustaining green jobs capable of lifting all people and communities across the Garden State.”

‘Ambitious Goals’

Catherine Bowes, offshore wind program director at the National Wildlife Federation, in comments shared with POWER said, “New Jersey continues to climb toward its ambitious offshore wind power goals, and these project announcements mark a bold stride forward, unprecedented in scale. We applaud Gov. Murphy and the Board of Public Utilities for their persistent efforts to realize the potential of responsibly developed offshore wind power that benefits both people and wildlife. We will keep working with project developers, partner organizations, and federal, state, and community leaders to ensure that these projects advance good jobs, abundant wildlife, and environmental justice.”

The projects combined are estimated to create 7,000 full- and or part-time jobs across their development, construction, and operational phases. Officials said the two installations also will generate $3.5 billion in economic benefits.  and power 1.15 million homes with clean energy. The project developers, as required by the solicitation from the state, also will contribute $10,000 per MW to fund research initiatives and wildlife and fishery monitoring in the region. The groups on Wednesday said that amounts to $26 million that will be administered by NJBPU and the New Jersey Dept. of Environmental Protection through a stakeholder process.

Laura Morton, the American Clean Power Association’s senior director for Policy and Regulatory Affairs for Offshore Wind, in an emailed statement to POWER said her group “thanks Gov. Murphy and his administration for their leadership supporting the growing offshore wind industry in New Jersey. … This ruling is a win for the citizens of New Jersey; it will allow the development of clean energy from the abundant wind resources off the New Jersey coast and allow them to take advantage of the economic investment and job creation opportunities the offshore wind industry is poised to deliver to the East Coast this decade. Developing these projects will not only create jobs but will revitalize coastal communities and deliver vast amounts of reliable clean energy to the region.”

‘Monumental Year’

Brandon Burke, vice president of Policy and Regulatory Engagement for the Business Network for Offshore Wind, in an emailed statement to POWER said, “It has been a monumental year for U.S. offshore wind and New Jersey is a state setting that trend … New Jersey is showing its leadership and future-oriented thinking to fulfill Gov. Murphy’s 7,500-MW offshore wind target. The state’s procurement will grow the New Jersey economy and the domestic offshore wind supply chain, as both projects commit to using the New Jersey Wind Port and the Paulsboro monopile manufacturing facility.”

“We are thrilled the BPU and the Murphy administration are making good on their promises to take bold action to advance wind energy in New Jersey, lead the nation as a regional hub for offshore wind manufacturing, and create thousands of good-middle class jobs that can’t be outsourced,” said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Votes, in comments shared with POWER. “Today’s announcement puts New Jersey one step closer to its goal of powering 3 million homes with clean energy from offshore wind.”

“Offshore wind is a central component of Gov. Murphy’s efforts to build a stronger, fairer, and greener economy in New Jersey,””said Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority. “Establishing New Jersey as a hub of the rapidly-growing American offshore wind industry will bring billions of dollars of investment into the state and create thousands of family-sustaining jobs for residents throughout the state. The solicitation award announced today is another exciting step forward that will help to cement New Jersey’s leadership in this emerging industry.”

Nacelle Assembly Facility

As noted earlier, each project developer has committed to build a nacelle assembly facility at the New Jersey Wind Port. The nacelle houses the components that convert the mechanical energy of the rotating blades into electrical energy. Atlantic Shores plans to partner with MHI Vestas for the assembly facility; Ocean Wind will collaborate with GE. Along with utilizing the foundation manufacturing facility at the Port of Paulsboro, the projects also will bring a green hydrogen pilot facility from Atlantic Shores, and a truck electrification pilot project at Port Newark from Ocean Wind.

NJBPU also is engaging in a first-of-its-kind transmission solicitation being managed by PJM Interconnection, the regional grid operator. The solicitation is looking for ready-to-build options for an open-access transmission solution to deliver the offshore wind energy to the existing power grid. Officials on Wednesday said they want to identify the most efficient, environmentally sensitive, and cost-effective way to bring the offshore energy to the mainland.

The NJBPU already has said it anticipates opening another offshore wind solicitation, seeking at least 1,200 MW of capacity, in 2022.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).