Wind turbines could appear off Atlantic City shore by 2020

Source: By James Nash, North Jersey Record • Posted: Friday, September 7, 2018

New Jersey is moving forward with a plan to install enough offshore wind turbines to power 1.5 million homes by 2030. How do gusts 20 miles off the coast turn into the electricity that lights up your home when you flip a switch? Russ Zimmer

Three wind turbines could sprout off the Atlantic City shore within two years, a modest start toward Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of powering millions of households from ocean breezes.

San Diego-based EDF Renewables has submitted an application to operate a small wind farm 2.8 miles east of the coastline of Atlantic City that the company says could be generating power by 2020. It would be the first offshore wind project in New Jersey and one of the first in the United States.

The trio of turbines would generate up to 25 megawatts, enough to power roughly 20,000 homes at once. They would be the start of a much larger program envisioned by Murphy, a Democrat elected last year with support from environmentalists.

The shift toward wind power comes at a cost: about $1.76 per year for the typical New Jersey household just for the three-turbine project, according to EDF Renewables. State officials have not estimated the effect on rates of a much larger offshore wind program.

“This project is a great way for the state to crawl before they walk,” said Doug Copeland, regional project manager for EDF Renewables. “This is the first project that’s going to be built in New Jersey of this kind.”

The company submitted an application last month to the state Board of Public Utilities to operate the wind turbines. It would be the first — and possibly the only — project to operate under the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which then-Gov. Chris Christie signed in 2010.

Murphy signed an executive order two weeks after taking office in January to expand offshore wind energy, saying the state had made “little progress” under the 2010 law. He set a goal of 3,500 megawatts from oceanic wind farms, which would power nearly 3 million homes at once.

About 5 percent of New Jersey’s total power output comes from renewable sources, with solar providing about 75 percent of that total, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. The bulk of the state’s power comes from nuclear and natural-gas-fired plants.