Launching a new era in the offshore-wind sector, at least two companies submitted bids to the operator of the regional power grid to fundamentally change how power from offshore wind farms is delivered to customers.
PJM Interconnection sought bids to address the power transmission needs created by offshore wind farms so the state can reach the Murphy administration’s goal of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035.
There are likely more bidders seeking the right to build an onshore energy hub that could handle up to 3,000 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind farms and deliver it to homes and businesses. But neither PJM nor the Board of Public Utilities would say how many other bids were submitted.
Wait until October
In a statement issued by the BPU, the agency said it expected that PJM will publicly provide additional information about the applications in early October. “We expect a number of exciting, competitive proposals on how best to deliver offshore wind power to New Jersey customers,’’ the statement said.
A spokesman for PJM said Friday it will not release information about the bidders until it reviews the proposed bids.
The two announced bidders are Anbaric Development Partners and Rise Light & Power, whose proposals seem to center on using an existing substation in Deans in South Brunswick where the power from the farms will be delivered and sent on to customers.
Rise Light & Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of the LS Power Group, recently completed the acquisition of the former E.H. Werner coal-fired power plant in South Amboy and plans to redevelop the 26-acre waterfront site on Raritan Bay as a renewable energy hub serving as a central interconnection point for the offshore wind farms to deliver clean power to the New Jersey electric grid.
Building on existing infrastructure
Dubbed the Outerbridge Renewable Connector, the site has transmission left from the former coal plant and an existing substation, facilities that reduce the cost of building new infrastructure at the site. The site is also near the New York Bight, where several developers are working to develop offshore wind farms.
“Outerbridge solves the challenge of finding appropriate and acceptable cable-landing sites by using existing infrastructure that avoids siting transmission lines in sensitive areas like residential neighborhoods and recreational beaches,’’ said Clint Plummer, CEO of Rise Light & Power.
Once offshore-wind energy is delivered to the new clean-energy hub at South Amboy, Outerbridge would function as a giant extension cord, delivering electricity to the local power grid through upgraded infrastructure on the site of the Deans substation in buried cables along an existing railroad right of way.
“Our proposed intention is to be a socket out in the ocean,’’ Plummer said in an interview. A proposed battery energy-storage system would offer further reliability to the grid, the company said.
Anbaric, a developer of electric transmission project submitted to PJM a portfolio of 19 projects — called the Boardwalk Power Link projects. The proposal is designed to deliver offshore wind electricity into the grid, which the company said will accelerate the growth of the industry and create significant clean energy jobs.
“Anbaric’s suite of proposals present the lowest cost, most efficient way to proceed with offshore-wind transmission: an open-access, planned system modeled after successful systems already in operation in Europe that we have been advocating here in New Jersey,’’ said Janice Fuller, president for Mid-Atlantic Anbaric.
Clean-energy advocates hailed the state’s move to begin attracting interest on how to build up the infrastructure to handle power from offshore wind farms. “Transmission is arguably the most consequential and least talked about problem in dealing with offshore wind,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.
“This solicitation is cutting edge because it is tackling the big issue around PJM and interconnections,’’ he said.
Last year, the Business Network of Offshore Wind projected that if all of the offshore wind farms proposed by New Jersey and four other coastal states are built, it could result in offshore transmission costs of between $15 billion and $20 billion.