By Gina G. Scala
One of the six companies that successfully bid for a slice of the 488,000 acres of offshore wind energy leases in the New York Bight last month already has plans in place to construct the largest single offshore wind project in New Jersey, approximately 10 to 20 miles off the coast between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light.
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Bight LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Atlantic Shores Wind LLC, was awarded 79,351 acres, paying $780 million for the lease area, according to the U.S. Department of Interior.
“We are very excited to have a lease area in the New York Bight, enabling us to provide more clean, renewable power from offshore wind projects to East Coast residents,” said Joris Veldhoven, commercial and finance director at Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind. “This New York Bight lease, in combination with our existing portfolio offshore energy projects, solidifies Atlantic Shores’ position as a driving force to establish this new industry and deliver clean, renewable power while protecting our natural resources.”
Just last year, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities awarded Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1 the right to receive offshore renewable energy certificates for its 1,510 megawatts offshore wind project. That project is expected to power more than 700,000 homes from within its existing 183,000-acre lease area off the coast of New Jersey. The project calls for an array of 111 turbines to be built in the southernmost portion of the company’s federal lease, 12 miles off Absecon Inlet, and probably will not be visible to LBI during the summer tourist season, officials said during a virtual open house held last summer.
“If you add that (New York Bight) potential to what has already been proposed in the Ocean Wind and Atlantic Shore projects, there is actually enough wind energy to exceed the governor’s goal by 60%,” said Bob Stern, president of Save Long Beach Island Inc., known locally as LBI Wind Without Impact. “So the governor has the luxury of looking at various areas and providing direction as to which area to pursue or which to not.”
Stern, a Beach Haven resident, former director of environmental compliance for the U.S. Department of Energy and a founding member of the coalition, said four of the lease areas BOEM accepted bids on are in Hudson South, an area his organization has encouraged the federal agency to look at in its process of selecting sites. The area, according to Stern, has the wind energy potential of generating 6,890 megawatts. Gov. Phil Murphy’s total goal is 7,500 megawatts, he added.
“We would suggest that this is an opportune time for the governor to appoint a committee of agency and public representatives to review the direction of the New Jersey offshore wind program and provide recommendations to him in that regard,” Stern said. “We would, of course, be more than glad to participate constructively in such an effort.”
In the meantime, environmental groups around the state lauded the nation’s highest-grossing competitive offshore energy auction in history, which drew $4.37 billion in competitive winning bids.
“We applaud efforts that affirm our state’s commitment to fight climate change while protecting our precious natural resources by moving to renewable energy sources like offshore wind,” said Eric Stiles, president and chief executive officer of New Jersey Audubon. “Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels will mitigate negative impacts due to climate change and will benefit wildlife populations throughout the coast.”
Jody Stewart, organizer for New Jersey Resource Project, said transitioning to clean, renewable energy is necessary to leave future generations safe communities.
“We are proud New Jersey is taking bold measures to lead in the offshore wind industry, by creating a cleaner form of energy and giving southern New Jersey economic opportunities we did not have in the past,” she added.
— Gina G. Scala