Environment New Jersey Research and Policy Center
Trenton – Offshore wind for New Jersey is closer to reality than it’s ever been before, and the Obama Administration is largely to thank, said environmentalists, public health advocates, and faith leaders today. The groups joined together on a national letter to President Obama and his officials, with more than 275 organizations and more than 40 from New Jersey, urging them to continue their leadership in developing wind power off the Atlantic Coast, including the Jersey Shore.
New Jersey has incredible potential for offshore wind that has stalled during the Christie Administration. After years of waiting, the Department of Interior is poised for a auction of two Wind Energy Areas off Atlantic City, totaling more than 344,00 acres, on Monday, November 9.
“Off-shore wind must be a key component of cutting New Jersey’s carbon pollution and moving towards a clean energy economy. That’s why we’re urging Gov. Christie to finally implement his own off-shore wind bill from five years ago. It’s never too late to follow your own law,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “Thankfully, the federal government isn’t pushing the pause button on clean energy. November’s auction of off-shore water will finally put a price tag on the economic value of off-shore wind.”
The move by the Department of Interior comes after five years of inaction by the Christie Administration to implement a bill signed by Gov. Christie in August 2010 greenlighting off-shore wind and creating a timeline for the Board of Public Utilities to create an off-shore wind program. Five years later, the state has still not implemented the bill.
The year so far has “marked a major milestone in America’s pursuit of offshore wind power, with our first project finally under construction off the coast of Rhode Island,” said the letter. “We are counting on your leadership to ensure that [the Block Island offshore wind farm] is truly the beginning of a new energy chapter for America.”
This July, BPU President Rick Mroz promised during his Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing that the BPU would hire an independent consultant to assist the BPU with the creation of an off-shore wind program. The Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act had a goal of 1,100 MW from off-shore wind and the recently reviewed Energy Master Plan discussed the potential for 3,000 MW of off-shore wind off the Jersey Shore.
Momentum is building for offshore wind in the U.S. This summer, constrctuction began at the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the Rhode Island coast, near Block Island. At the same time, the Obama administration has awarded nine commercial wind leases totaling over 700,000 acres in federal waters up and down the Atlantic Coast, with more leases on the horizon. The White House also recently announced a multi-state project with New York, Maine, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island that will lay important groundwork for offshore wind along the Atlantic coast.
The letter lauded the Clean Power Plan, which Gov. Christie’s administration has asked for a stay on, saying “additional leadership is needed to maintain momentum and ensure that offshore wind power plays a major role in states’ plans to reduce pollution and shift to clean energy.”
In addition to leadership from President Obama, environmental groups also urged Gov. Christie and his Board of Public Utitlies to finally implement the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act by finalizing and releasing the state’s off-shore wind program five years after the legislation was signed into law in August 2010.