Massive wind port said to curb climate change, boost jobs

At groundbreaking, Murphy says site will make NJ the ‘epicenter’ of offshore wind industry
Credit: (Jon Hurdle)
Sept. 9, 2021: Gov. Murphy (5th from left) and other politicians and officials ceremonially break ground on the New Jersey Wind Port in Salem County.

New Jersey’s budding offshore wind industry got an official endorsement Thursday with a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new state-financed port that will service the host of turbines due for construction in the next few years.

Gov. Phil Murphy joined U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, senior state officials, federal and state lawmakers, trade unionists and environmental activists to launch the New Jersey Wind Port where operators will marshal and assemble the components that make up the giant turbines.

The facility, on 200 acres adjoining the Salem County nuclear-power complex, will be the nation’s first purpose-built onshore site for servicing an industry that’s key to achieving the Murphy administration’s clean-energy goals, and contributing to a global target of cutting carbon emissions.

Just one week after the remnants of Hurricane Ida ravaged New Jersey with tornadoes and record rainfall, killing more than two dozen people, Murphy said the wind port showed that the state is serious about curbing climate change.

Recalling his visit last week to South Jersey homes crushed by a tornado, Murphy said there may be little that New Jersey can do on its own to reverse climate change, but that shouldn’t stop it trying.

“That sort of reality may be part of our today, but we must do all that we can to prove our unwillingness to deny climate change,” Murphy said. He said the state should attack climate change “head-on” so that future generations can enjoy a habitable world.

‘Epicenter’ of offshore wind industry?

Murphy, a first-term Democrat running for reelection, said the port will establish New Jersey as the “epicenter” of America’s offshore wind industry and the focus of its supply chain.

“This location will provide essential staging, assembly and manufacturing for the offshore wind industry, not just in Jersey, but up and down the East Coast,” Murphy said, next to a ceremonial sand pile lined with shovels and hard hats.

The project finally refutes a long-held argument that there’s a trade-off between job creation and environmental protection, considering projections that the port will create 1,500 permanent jobs, and hundreds more in the construction phase, Murphy said.

Credit: (Jon Hurdle)
Sept. 9, 2021: At the groundbreaking ceremony, Gov. Phil Murphy said the New Jersey Wind Port will create jobs while fighting climate change.

“What we are doing here today is not only creating jobs — overwhelmingly good union jobs — it is going to be perhaps our greatest stand against climate change,” Murphy said. “New Jersey is going to change the narrative: Fighting climate change and creating good jobs do go hand in hand.”

The state’s first commercial-scale wind farm, named Ocean Wind, is sited about 15 miles off Atlantic City, and is due to start delivering power by late 2024. The project will be managed by Denmark’s Ørsted, one of the world’s biggest offshore wind developers, and is 25% owned by the PSEG energy company. It will generate 1,100 megawatts, or enough to power around 500,000 homes.

Next up, another wind farm

It is due to be followed by Atlantic Shores, starting in 2024, a wind farm between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light. The project would generate 1,510 MW, or enough to power some 700,000 homes.

The two projects will help Murphy meet his goal of generating 7,500 MW of offshore wind power by 2035. Offshore wind is a key component of the Murphy administration’s clean-energy policy, which aims to have the state running on 100% clean energy by 2050.

The port’s backers hope it will become a nexus for serving the nascent wind industry along the entire East Coast, where states have committed to buying some 25,000 MW of offshore wind power by 2035, enough to power around 17 million homes.

The port’s site was chosen in part because it has direct access to the open ocean, with no bridges that would block the giant turbine towers that are shipped vertically from their assembly points to their offshore locations.

The site also has enough space for assembly of the turbines, some of which will tower more than 800 feet above the ocean surface when they are complete. The components will include wind turbine foundations, or monopiles, which are due for construction at a new factory in nearby Paulsboro.

Construction starts later this year

The Lower Alloways Creek site is one of the few on the East Coast that meets all the requirements for a wind port, officials say.

Construction, headed by AECOM Tishman, is due to start late this year, and will require workers with skills in manufacturing, assembly and operations; most jobs at the port will not require a college degree.

The project, which is expected to cost between $300 million and $400 million, will be managed by New Jersey’s Economic Development Agency.

At the groundbreaking, Walsh called the wind port a “transformative project” that will help President Biden achieve his goal of 30,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2030. Walsh told the audience, which included representatives of labor unions, that fighting climate change also creates jobs. “This facility is going to help us move boldly toward both of these goals,” he said.

Bill Mullen, president of the New Jersey Building Trades Council, said there’s no doubt that the climate is changing, and that offshore wind is a viable alternative to climate-altering greenhouse gases. “We all know that the future is here in wind energy,” he said.

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