N.J.’s first offshore wind farm gets boost

Source: By Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, December 7, 2020

New Jersey’s largest utility announced Friday it was buying a 25% stake in the state’s first planned offshore wind farm in an effort to create local jobs and boost the industry’s supply chain.

In a statement, the Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. (PSEG) said it inked a deal with Ørsted North America Inc. for a stake in the Ocean Wind project planned off the coast of Atlantic City. If built, the 1,100-megawatt project could power about 500,000 homes, according to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The developers are aiming for Ocean Wind to provide power by 2024.

“As New Jersey’s first offshore wind project, Ocean Wind will lead the way for a productive first step into this forward-leaning industry, bringing with it new skills, jobs and carbon-free energy,” said PSEG Chairman, President and CEO Ralph Izzo.

Henrik Poulsen, CEO and president of Denmark-based Ørsted A/S, added that the move would assist in achieving New Jersey’s target of 100% clean energy by midcentury. The project is also estimated to bring more than $1.1 billion in economic benefits, according to New Jersey officials.

PSEG Vice President of Offshore Wind Development Lathrop Craig said the companies have “natural synergies” combining Ørsted’s expertise in global construction and PSEG’s power market knowledge and experience with regional energy infrastructure.

The timeline to bring Ocean Wind online depends on federal permitting and final investment decisions by Ørsted and PSEG. BPU would also need to approve PSEG’s partial acquisition of the project, which is expected to occur in the first half of 2021, the companies said.

The purchase price was not announced. Ørsted would not divulge it, and PSEG did not immediately respond to a request for details.

Ocean Wind has prompted some pushback, including from state lawmakers in September who urged BPU to investigate whether Ørsted misrepresented the project’s economic benefits (E&E News PM, Sept. 10).

Last month, New Jersey committed to using offshore wind energy to eventually power 3.2 million homes. It entered into an agreement with regional grid operator PJM Interconnection to study the best ways to bring the electricity to shore and distribute it.

In August, PSEG announced plans to sell all its coal and gas plants and hinted at larger interest in offshore wind (Energywire, Aug. 4).

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said Friday’s deal is a “major shift” in how PSEG will get its electricity going forward.

“Offshore wind is the most reliable and cost-effective way to reduce greenhouse [gases] and move forward on renewable energy,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed.