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New Jersey approved two massive offshore wind projects Wednesday, expected to power up to 1.8 million homes, create 27,000 new jobs and inject more than $3 billion into the state’s economy. The unanimous decision by the state’s Board of Public Utilities comes on the heels of a major setback back in October after Danish wind giant, Orsted, announced it would cancel its projects in New Jersey, citing inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain issues.
Together, the newly approved projects will generate 3,742 megawatts of electricity, helping to slash the state’s carbon emissions by one-third and reach Governor Phil Murphy’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2035.
“Today’s actions are about the future and the contributions we make to our children and grandchildren,” said BPU Commissioner Zenon Christodoulou. “The cost of inaction is incalculable. The benefits are real. Proper investment and innovation have always served mankind, improved lives and allowed us to chart a course into the unknown.”
The winning proposals include Invenergy Energy’s Leading Light Wind, a 2,400-megawatt project about 47 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. It is expected to be completed in two phases by 2031 and 2032. Invenergy is the first U.S. company awarded a contract to build a utility scale offshore wind project.
Both deals include funds to mitigate environmental impacts and agreements to purchase equipment from the Paulsboro windport, which had originally been dependent on Orsted as a customer. The German company, EEW, one of the largest manufacturers of monopiles, which serve as the foundations for turbines, will now be the supplier to both projects.
Orsted’s decision to pull out of New Jersey last October angered Gov. Murphy, who pledged to make the state the offshore wind hub for the entire East Coast, which the BPU says is now back on track.
“Depending on unreliable global energy suppliers to fuel our vehicles, to power our businesses, and to warm homes around the world, is a failure of foreign policy that has affected generations,” Christopoulou said. “We can’t kick the can down the road any longer. We have a chance to reverse that course and New Jersey will lead the way once again.”
The guaranteed price that the companies will fetch from electricity suppliers in the state is higher than what Orsted had negotiated, but in line with current fossil fuel prices. Invenergy agreed to collect $112.50 per MW hour for the first year. In addition to shoring up the Paulsboro wind port, the company also agreed to spend $94 million to help reduce electricity costs for low-income households. Attentive Energy will garner $131 per MW hour in the first year.
Critics of offshore wind have pointed to the potential impact on fisheries and tourism, as well as rising rates that will benefit company shareholders and leave ratepayers saddled with the higher costs of clean energy. Links to whale deaths have been debunked by scientists. The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel has warned of the impacts on consumers.