ATLANTIC CITY — The state is working to open the bidding for the first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy by the end of the year, in time for developers to qualify for 2019 federal tax credits, a spokesperson for the Board of Public Utilities told a meeting of wind developers and supporters Monday.
That should save ratepayers about 12 percent of the building costs, said Anne Marie McShea, off-shore wind program administrator for the BPU at the conference Time for Turbines: What a Difference a Year Makes on Monday at the Atlantic County Utility Authority’s wastewater treatment facility.
The federal credits are due to end at the end of next year.
Ratepayers will finance the construction of offshore wind farms through an add-on to their monthly bills, awarded as Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits to developers in a competitive process.
The rules for the OREC process were published in the New Jersey Register on Monday, after being released in draft form last week.
The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, intended to get the industry started here, was not implemented under Gov. Chris Christie, said Doug O’Malley of Environment New Jersey, one of the organizers. But Gov. Phil Murphy, who is looking for the state to rely 100 percent on clean energy by 2050, has made it a priority.
Frank Felder, director of the Rutgers Energy Institute, said the act requires projects to be evaluated for economic and environmental costs and benefits.
He said the state needs to ask, “How do we do this in the most cost effective way, to avoid potential backlash as potential costs could mount.”
“The results are not just to find the lowest price,” said McShea. “It requires any project that receives ORECs to demonstrate a net economic and environmental benefit — the best value for New Jersey.”
This year, Gov. Murphy set the largest goal in the nation for offshore wind generation, with a target of 1,100 megawatts by 2025 and 3,500 megawatts by 2030.
The conference, co-sponsored by the Business Network for Offshore Wind and Jersey Renews, focused on how to advance the offshore wind industry in New Jersey. Labor, fishing and maritime, environmental and wind industry representatives attended.
Speakers emphasized the need to keep the public informed about offshore wind, especially groups that depend on the ocean, such as fishermen, those who work in the tourism industry and the scientific community.
“We are just starting to crack this nut of offshore wind. It gives us such an opportunity to address climate and create good jobs,” said Hillary Bright, state policy director for the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of five environmental organizations and eight labor unions.
Anna Fendley, of United Steelworkers, said her union is mainly looking at participating in manufacturing for the supply chain.
She said one megawatt of wind capacity requires 103 tons of steel, 402 tons of concrete, 3 tons of copper, 20 tons of cast iron and 6 tons of fiberglass.
“It’s so important for this to be sourced domestically,” she said. “Steelworkers are here and ready to help build this industry.”
State Senate President Steve Sweeney said it bugged him that Rhode Island got the U.S.’s first offshore wind farm, Deepwater Wind’s Block Island Wind Farm.
“But this is the beginning. They got a head start but we’re gonna catch up,” said Sweeney. “We are going to advance clean energy in a way to create the type of economic opportunity we have all dreamed of.”
He said he wants New Jersey to capture every piece of offshore wind, from manufacturing to construction to technical oversight.
“Some people say you can’t get it all,” Sweeney said of advice from experienced European firms, which recommend a cooperative regional approach between states. “Well, why not?”