Gov.-elect Phil Murphy is committed to increasing electricity generated from clean energy to 100 percent by 2050. As a commissioner of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, I look forward to working with the new administration to effectuate the governor-elect’s clean energy goals.
Clean energy is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, spurring economic development and stabilizing energy prices. To be successful in meeting the governor-elect’s goals, we must grasp the opportunity and construct offshore-wind turbines as a large component within a diverse New Jersey electric generation portfolio.
New Jersey’s current electric generation portfolio is comprised of 39 percent nuclear and 56 percent natural gas. Natural gas is considered a limited option to replace the aging fleet of energy generation due to price volatility and carbon emissions. By example, in 2019, Exelon’s Oyster Creek Nuclear Generator, representing approximately 625 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity serving an estimated 600,000 average residential households with zero carbon emissions, is set to retire. Replacing this zero-carbon emission generation with natural gas is not a viable option. Not only would New Jersey’s carbon footprint soar, but it would be gambling with the state’s energy supply and affordability by putting all of the state’s energy eggs in “the natural gas basket.”
Offshore wind is cost-effective and perfectly positioned to provide clean renewable energy that can be produced right here in the Garden State. The cost of offshore wind has declined by 32 percent since 2012, and is expected to decline by 70 percent by 2040. There are currently 344,000 acres under federal lease off the coast of New Jersey that can support up to 3500 MWs of capacity, representing 20 percent of New Jersey’s energy needs.
Additionally, offshore wind could help lower New Jersey’s high energy costs. The PJM regional capacity (or the potential amount of generation that is required for reliability) pricing for its entire footprint that encompasses the District of Columbia and 13 states, including New Jersey, came in lower-than-anticipated this year.
However, in New Jersey alone, the price for capacity was more than double that of other states due to “transmission limits” and a lack of new capacity. Offshore wind is a means to rectify this recurring problem.
New transmission and storage technologies built to support offshore wind along the eastern PJM shore region could relieve transmission limits and increase reliability. By shifting regional portfolio standard investments toward in-state resources such as offshore wind, we can site new generation nearest to New Jersey energy loads.
Offshore wind could create new generating capacity and ultimately lower the cost of energy throughout the state.
The rarely discussed benefits to offshore wind are the construction, operation and maintenance jobs that would be born out of a new New Jersey industry creating added economic opportunities for decades.
We must grasp the opportunity now and introduce offshore wind to New Jersey’s renewable energy resources mix. The sooner we get started, the sooner we can reach Gov.-elect Murphy’s 2050 goal; reducing greenhouse gas emissions while defining New Jersey as a national leader strongly committed to a clean energy future.
Offshore wind is a win-win answer for New Jersey.
Commissioner Joseph L. Fiordaliso, of Livingston, is a New Jersey Board of Public Utilities commissioner. He also serves on the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Committee on Critical Infrastructure and Committee on Energy Resources and the Environment, and is a member of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities Commissioners and the National Council on Electricity Policy.