New Jersey offshore wind opponents sue state and developer to block tax breaks

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New Jersey offshore wind opponents sued to block a recently approved state law that allows the Danish developer Orsted to keep lucrative federal tax credits rather than pass the savings on to ratepayers.

The lawsuit argues the new law is unconstitutional because it applies to just one company.

In June, state lawmakers passed the carve-out for Orsted and Gov. Murphy signed the bill in early July. In 2019, Orsted promised state regulators that it would return any current or future federal tax credits to ratepayers in an application to the Board of Public Utilities. The BPU expressed concern about the burden on ratepayers.

Attorney Bruce Afran represents plaintiffs Protect our Coast NJ and Defend Brigantine Beach along with three New Jersey ratepayers.

“We are asking the court to declare that the law is illegal and unconstitutional because the legislature cannot give away $1 billion to a private company,” Afran said. “Clearly they do not want to spend their own capital.”

It’s the third legal challenge filed that could delay or halt Orsted’s Ocean Wind 1, a project that would include 98 turbines 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. Save Long Beach Island, Defend Brigantine Beach and Protect our Coast NJ appealed state permits for the wind farm. Save LBI has sued the federal government for creating the lease sites, which in addition to Orsted’s Ocean Wind 1 and 2, includes several additional projects off the Jersey coast.

Orsted declined an interview, saying the company does not comment on pending litigation.

But in an emailed statement, Orsted said it “remains committed to collaboration with local communities and will continue working to support New Jersey’s clean energy targets and economic development goals by bringing good-paying jobs and local investment to the Garden State.”

  • August 1, 2023
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