By Lisa Campanella, Senior Policy Analyst, and Cameron Foster, Communications Organizer
When I think about what the year 2050 will look like for the Jersey Shore, I picture a future that isn’t too different from the present. The things that make me proud to call it my lifelong home are still here, from friendly neighbors to summer days at the beach, and mornings on the water catching fluke. But on top of everything we love about the Shore today, there are new additions that have made New Jersey even stronger.
In the 2050 I imagine, my own community in South Jersey is at the forefront of a new and growing industry, leading the charge in manufacturing, constructing, and operating offshore wind farms. Jobs in various trades across the industry support families, and
ample opportunities for training are available for people entering the workforce or looking to start down a new path. The community benefits agreement between my town and the companies leasing the wind areas allowed us to pay for things we really needed, like hurricane and flood protections, protecting the shore for the generations yet to come. And to top it all off, local businesses, schools, and public services all benefit from the money these projects generate and the stable income they provide to residents.
Back here in 2023, this version of the future isn’t just a fantasy. New Jersey is poised to be a national leader in developing America’s offshore wind power, which has the potential to meet 90% of U.S. energy demand by 2050. The N.J. projects will likely create up to 68,000 jobs between the years 2020-2035.
We won’t have to wait until then to start seeing the benefits, though. In fall 2021, ground broke on the New Jersey Wind Port in Salem County, which has the potential to create 1,500 permanent jobs and generate $500 million annually in economic activity. Construction began last September, and already boasts a union crew of 60 workers across trades, including dockbuilders, carpenters, operators and more. The site has committed to sourcing the materials they’re using from New Jersey as much as possible, along with ensuring that local communities benefit from new job opportunities first and foremost. That’s in addition to the planned offshore wind manufacturing operation at Paulsboro in Gloucester County, which will likewise require plenty of steelworkers, pile drivers, millwrights, drivers, tenders, and more.
There will be jobs created during construction, and for ongoing operation and maintenance portions of the wind projects, most of which won’t require a college degree. These are jobs that those of us who live here can do, or learn to do – in fact, there are already workforce development plans in place to make these job opportunities accessible to the residents of Salem County. For example, the recently announced WIND Institute will serve as a center for education, research, innovation, and workforce training related to the development of offshore wind. Orsted, one of the companies developing the wind farms, has created a Pro-NJ Grantor Trust program with $15 million dollars aimed at small businesses in Ocean, Atlantic, and Cape May Counties – especially those owned by women and minorities.
Even though offshore wind is still a new industry in America, we’re not getting these numbers out of nowhere. Wind projects in Europe, and on-land wind projects in multiple states across the U.S., have provided multi-billion-dollar boosts to local economies and the creation of thousands of jobs. Plus, the income we make from these jobs we’ll
then pump back into the local economy. For each dollar transferred from wind developers to the construction companies, and the greater the wages are to workers, the more money we’ll use to buy local goods and services.
If we claim our seat at the table and make sure by make sure our voices are heard, our demands are prioritized, and our towns see the benefits. That’s a future I’m eager to see, because I know people from the Jersey Shore are some of the best people around – and when we step up as leaders, we make sure it gets done right.