New Jersey newest state to select offshore wind developer

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) on Friday awarded Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE) $4 million to develop a 345.6-MW offshore wind farm, a project that could be the first offshore wind farm on the East Coast.
GSOE’s proposal calls for building 96 wind turbines arranged in a rectangular grid 16 miles off the coastline southeast of Atlantic City. The company anticipates that at this distance, the farm would barely be visible from shore.
The BPU’s bid selection is on par with New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for 20% of the state’s power produced for New Jersey consumption to come from renewable sources by 2020.
GSOE, a joint venture between PSEG Renewable Generation and Deepwater Wind, had contended with four other applicants in response to an October 2007 solicitation issued by the BPU. A committee with five members from diverse state bodies, including the Department of Environmental Protection and Commission on Commerce, evaluated the proposals.
The BPU will provide 10% of the total incentive upfront to help GSOE conduct needed studies and prepare needed permit applications. Construction would begin in 2010 after necessary permitting and the baseline ecological study (currently being conducted by the Department of Environmental Protection) is completed.
The wind farm could begin generating power by 2012 and be fully operational by 2013, GSOE said.
In May 2008, the U.S. Department of Energy’s report on a 20% wind energy scenario found offshore wind capacity could constitute about one-sixth of total wind power generation by 2030. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), no wind projects have been built off U.S. shores yet, though several are being planned.
Delmarva Power recently signed a 25-year contract with Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC, a subsidiary of Babcock and Brown, for up to 200 MW from Bluewater’s proposed facility 11.5 miles offshore Rehoboth Beach. It was the first such contract signed in the U.S. The Delaware Public Utilities Commission recently approved the agreement.
On Sept. 25, Deepwater Wind won a bid to build a facility off the shore of Rhode Island that would provide 15% of all electricity used in that state. The state and the New Jersey–based company are currently negotiating a formal development agreement. Final approval of the project will rely on regulatory approvals from state and federal government.
AWEA noted that a project proposed off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., has been in the planning and approval process for several years.
The New Jersey BPU’s decision could also prompt regulators to support projects off the south shore of Long Island and New York City, reported The New York Times.

Sources: New Jersey BPU, GSOE, AWEA, Deepwater Wind, The New York Times

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