Biden to expand offshore wind development along Jersey coastline

Nearly 800,000 acres of potential wind-energy areas that could help fight climate change
Credit: Wolfgang. W. via Creative Commons CC BY 2.0
Offshore wind farm under construction

The federal government is planning to open up new areas off the Jersey coast for offshore wind farms, a development that could accelerate the Murphy administration’s goal to transition to clean energy in New Jersey.

In a series of announcements Monday, the Department of Interior said it has identified nearly 800,000 acres in the New York Bight, a triangular area of coastline between Long Island and New Jersey, as potential wind-energy areas, a designation that could lead to new offshore wind farms being developed there.

The Biden administration also committed to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, creating nearly 80,000 jobs. The commitments marked a reversal of policies by the prior administration, which advocated drilling for offshore oil and gas instead of shifting to clean-energy technologies like offshore wind aggressively pushed by New Jersey and other states along the Eastern Seaboard.

“For generations, we’ve put off the transition to clean energy and now we’re facing a climate crisis,’’ said Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland, at a White House forum. “It’s a crisis that doesn’t discriminate — every community is facing more extreme weather and the costs associated with that.’’

The New York Bight is located in an area of shallow water, a parcel where offshore wind farms could be located to help states meet their offshore wind goals. New Jersey has set a target of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035. New York has a goal of 9,000 mw by 2035, too.

READ: State moves to promote offshore wind

WATCH: Firms compete for a foothold in offshore wind

‘Limitless potential’

“The Murphy administration has finally found a willing partner in Washington,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “The potential for offshore wind is limitless.’’

If the 30,000 megawatts does come from the potential offshore wind farms, that means dozens of potential fossil fuel plants won’t be needed, O’Malley said. “We were hoping the Biden administration would open up the spigots for offshore wind,” he added.

Additionally, the Interior Department said it is initiating the environmental review of the nation’s third commercial-scale offshore wind project by announcing its notice of intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Ocean Wind LLC project. The facility, expected to be New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm, is proposed to be built about 15 miles off Atlantic City.

The project will have a total capacity of 1,100 mw — enough to power about a half-million homes across New Jersey. The project is being developed by Ørsted, with a partial interest from the Public Service Enterprise Group. It is not expected to be operational until 2025.

“It’s a great day of the U.S. offshore wind industry and for all New Jersey,’’ said David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America. “Ocean Wind represents the first offshore win project for New Jersey and one of the largest offshore wind contracts awarded in the U.S.’’

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is scheduled to hold a second solicitation for offshore wind development this June. Two bidders have emerged to build up to 2,400 mw of new capacity off the coast — Ørsted and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture of EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies US LLC.

READ: New Jersey urged to move fast on offshore wind

WATCH: Murphy aims to boost offshore wind