ENVIRONMENT

Murphy promises to propel offshore wind industry

BY Brenda Flanagan, Senior Correspondent |

“Our position in the middle of the Atlantic coast, and the strong winds that come with it make New Jersey an ideal place to grow the offshore wind industry,” said Gov. Murphy.

Murphy delivered his sales pitch to an international offshore wind forum Wednesday, as hundreds of industry stakeholders are looking to possibly invest here. He promised political winds are finally blowing their way.

“This is going to be our all-in attempt to combat climate change and ensure the reliable and clean source of power our residents and industries need,” continued Murphy.

The governor in January signed an Executive Order that fast-tracked a stalled 2010 law to develop offshore wind farms. Wednesday, Danish powerhouse, Orsted, announced it’s opening an actual office in Atlantic City next month. This summer, it’ll start exploring 10 miles off Atlantic City, where it obtained a 250-square-mile wind farm lease a couple years ago.

“They test the seabed conditions to make sure it’s suitable for putting in the turbines. They check for waves and wind, so we get a really good solid data point on what’s actually out there in our wind energy area,” said Lauren Burm, a spokesperson for Orsted North America.

Orsted’s wind farm could generate 1,000 megawatts, enough for a half million homes. New Jersey’s current wind energy capacity, is a whopping nine megawatts, with a potential for 945. Murphy’s goal is 3,500 megawatts by 2030. Industry experts predict ratepayers will see prices plummet compared to natural gas.

“We will be at that price point in five years. We will be at the 3-percent price point of natural gas in five years,” said Liz Burdock, executive director of Business Network for Offshore Wind.

Technological innovations and economies of scale will drive prices down, and New Jersey wants to be a launchpad for manufacturing offshore wind components. Union workers are solidly behind it.

“We are ready to go to work, all the trades. Ready to train, just tell us what you need. We’re ready to go, we’re really excited,” said trade union lobbyist Roy Coulombe.

“Everywhere it’s gone offshore wind has generated massive numbers of jobs. And they’re good jobs, good paying jobs,” according to Jim Florio, governor of New Jersey from 1990-1994.

“All the major companies in the world are here, so the access to knowledge, technology, capital is in place,” said Ditlev Engel, CEO of DNV GL Energy. “So, I would say it has never been more promising than it is right now.”

The Board of Public Utilities is still working on regulations for renewable energy credits. The companies say they’re ready to go.