Denmark-based offshore wind operator Ørsted is proposing to supply the first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy for New Jersey, with project backers saying it will bring new maritime jobs and manufacturing to the state.
Ørsted submitted its response Dec. 28 a bid to the New Jersey state Board of Public Utilities’ request for proposals with the plan for the Ocean Wind project, which would be built 15 miles off Atlantic City, N.J., on a lease that Ørsted (then known as DONG Energy) acquired in one of the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s early auctions for the fledging industry.
If accepted by utility regulators, the project would be a first step toward New Jersey’s goal of achieving 3,500 MW of wind-generated power from offshore by 2030, a centerpiece of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s energy policy.
“Obviously the political environment was very supportive of offshore wind. That was key for investing here,” said Elisabeth-Anne Treseder, a senior policy advisor with Ørsted, at a Dec. 13 meeting with regulators in Atlantic City.
Ørsted would work with New Jersey power company Public Service Enterprise Group’s non-utility affiliates, which would provide energy management services and potential lease of land for use in project development and have the option to become an equity investor in the project.
After acquiring Deepwater Wind in 2018 Ørsted became operator of the Block Island Wind Farm off Rhode Island, the first commercial U.S. offshore wind power installation. Long established in the European wind industry where it built the first offshore wind project in 1991, Ørsted says it can make the New Jersey goal a reality long before other competitors.
Now with U.S. offices in Boston and Atlantic City, the company markets itself as the best candidate to “deliver a credible timeline as it’s the most mature project based on years of significant site investigation, permitting and interconnection work,” as Ørsted officials said in announcing their bid. “This allows Ørsted to deliver on the economic, environmental and energy system benefits years before others can.”
New Jersey officials said they want wind developers to establish new jobs. Ørsted says it will deliver “1,000 annual construction jobs within the state, providing significant opportunities for high-quality, skilled labor jobs from the South Jersey building and construction trades,” and “make significant investments in New Jersey’s offshore wind fabrication, construction and maintenance infrastructure — all of which will create long-term job potential and reduce the cost of future offshore wind farms in the region.”
Meanwhile, EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies LLC announced the formation of a 50/50 joint venture, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC, to develop an 183,353-acre lease off New Jersey, adjacent to Ørsted’s lease.
The companies acquired the tract for $215 million from US Wind, Baltimore, which originally paid $1.5 million for it in one of BOEM’s first wind area auctions in 2015. Salvo Vitale, general counsel for US Wind, told the Baltimore Business Journal that selling the New Jersey lease gives the company capital to focus on its plans for a 250 MW wind project off Ocean City, Md., where it holds a lease. US Wind is also investing in making Baltimore a hub port for developing wind power off the Mid-Atlantic states.
EDF Renewables operates 2,800 megawatts of offshore wind capacity in Europe. The Paris-based company says its partnership with Shell will enable it “to efficiently transform the U.S. offshore wind sector, beginning in New Jersey.” Their plan, pending regulatory and other approvals, is to be operating turbines by the mid-2020s.
“Shell has bold ambitions to grow our renewable power business and we see great potential in U.S. offshore wind,” said Dorine Bosman, vice president of Shell Wind Development. “Gaining access to this acreage in New Jersey complements our successful entry to Massachusetts and our existing renewable generation business. Building on the strength of our brand and global presence allows us to continue providing our customers with more and cleaner energy.”