ENVIRONMENT

NJ looks to lure Scottish wind energy companies to the Garden State

BY Michael Hill, Correspondent |

Since 2011, Northstar Marine Services’ vessels have taken engineers offshore to survey the Atlantic Ocean, with the goal of building wind farms. One of the organization’s managers came fishing for more business at a gathering of New Jersey and Scottish energy executives Friday.

“We see huge growth,” said Michael Jarvis of the Northstar Environmental and Marine Services. “We’ve made a couple of major investments in vessels that you would normally see in the Gulf of Mexico.”

“Our philosophy is we need to connect people together in order to build a supply chain,” said Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind.

The Business Network for Offshore Wind and the state Economic Development Authority invited the Scotland delegation and American businesses to the networking event.

“They have the know-how,” said Burdock. “They have over 20 gigawatts of offshore wind installed in Europe and so they have the ability to transfer that technical knowledge to our companies. We never want them to displace US companies. What want them to do is work in partnership with them.”

“We’re here to make sure they really understand what’s going on here in New Jersey with offshore wind, understand our value proposition and hopefully get them to locate their businesses here,” said Brian Sabina of the NJ EDA.

Sabina also hopes to create thousands of jobs after overcoming what the Business Network described as opponents or skeptics of offshore wind: the military, vessel operators, coastal towns and fisheries.

Commercial fisherman Brick Wenzel says it’s better if companies float their turbines instead of drilling in to the ocean floor.

“And the reason why it’s going to be cheaper is because they’re not going to have to mitigate some of the economic and environmental impacts that the stationary or static technology has,” said Wenzel.

The Murphy administration has laid out a plan for New Jersey to go a hundred percent renewable energy by 2050.

“We’ve gotten more done in the last 18 months in this area than the previous 8 years,” said former governor Jim Florio.

“What he started with was a very transparent process on procuring the offshore wind projects,” said Burdock.

The EDA is using taxpayer dollars to incentivize the wind energy industry. It encourages women and minorities to list their companies and services with the EDA.

The first company to win a New Jersey contract to build an offshore wind farm says it has a 15-million-dollar grant program to entice women and minority contractors.

“We’re piloting it here,” said Ørsted’s Kris Ohleth. “We see a huge opportunity for New Jersey to be the leader in this. And we’ll see how it goes first.”