N.J. goes big in latest bid for developers

Source: By David Iaconangelo, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2020

New Jersey’s utility regulator is seeking new bids for offshore wind as the state looks to make headway in its ambitious goals for the resource.

The state’s Board of Public Utilities said yesterday that it was opening applications from developers to build turbines and generate up to 2,400 megawatts of power from offshore areas. It will announce the winner or winners in June of next year.

While several Northeastern states are racing to develop offshore wind industries, the resource is an unusually important one for New Jersey’s future. In 2035, the state plans to derive half of its power load from offshore wind alone, or some 7,500 MW. That’s on the way to 100% carbon-neutral power by 2050, as required by law.

BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said the state plans to keep up its “whirlwind pace” of industry development, in a statement citing the “twin crises of COVID-19’s economic devastation and climate change.”

“New Jersey has the wind, and the time to get in on our new innovation economy — located in the strong winds right off our 130-mile coastline … is now,” he said.

The current round of project proposals can run from 1,200 MW — the minimum established by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) earlier this year — all the way up to 2,400 MW, which is 100 MW less than New York’s largest-ever solicitation, announced this summer (Energywire, July 22).

New Jersey has forged regional collaborations on offshore wind issues, but the state remains in an intense competition with its neighbors for jobs stemming from turbine manufacturing and assembly. In June, it announced a $300 million site that will include facilities for both of those activities, the largest of its kind (E&E News PM, June 16).

The BPU also approved a long-term road map for the state’s offshore wind industry. That document encourages the state to carry out deeper studies of much-debated policy areas, like the best way to transmit power to shore. It also highlights specific species as worthy of attention for conservation and floats new clean energy ideas such as net-zero buildings and electric equipment at offshore wind port facilities.

Regulators at the agency said they have reached an additional agreement with the state’s economic development agency to invest $4.5 million in safety courses and training for turbine technicians, as well as new plans to recruit local students and workers into the industry.