The state Board of Public Utilities released a draft of its proposed rules for offshore wind projects Friday, laying out what offshore wind energy certificates (ORECs) will pay for and how they will be funded.
The ORECs will reimburse developers for the construction and 20-year operation of the wind farms that win board approval. They will be funded by ratepayers, and all money the wind farms make from selling electricity into the grid will be returned to ratepayers, according to the rules.
The rules are needed to implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, which Gov. Chris Christie kept from fruition. When Gov. Phil Murphy came into office, one of his first acts was to issue an executive order that required the BPU to fully implement the law.
WEST WINDSOR — Get the rules right, but move quickly.
He directed the BPU to work toward a state goal of 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030, to proceed quickly with a solicitation of 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capacity and finalize rules for OREC funding.
“It’s an important step for the BPU,” said Beth Treseder, a senior policy adviser in government affairs for Orsted North America. “We look forward to seeing additional information about the OREC window this year.”
Orsted is competing with several other offshore wind developers for the right to receive OREC payments from New Jersey. It hopes to build an industrial-scale wind farm about 10 miles off Atlantic City in federal waters, and has already opened an Atlantic City office.
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The OREC window is the solicitation for bids the BPU must make to choose which projects to fund.
Developers would bid to provide specific amounts of megawatt hours of wind-generated electricity into the grid in New Jersey, for a specific megawatt hour price.
Then the board will decide which projects will provide the greatest net benefit to the state, and those projects will get the ORECs.
Treseder said Orsted has been “encouraging the BPU to move forward quickly on opening an OREC window, and we hope it’s done this year, to allow developers to take advantage of a federal investment tax credit.”
The federal tax credit for developing offshore wind projects ends at the end of 2019.
It’s a concern shared by many in the industry. At a July meeting near Trenton, where the BPU asked for public input on how the bid solicitations should be written, several people spoke about the need to get solicitations out this year.
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“We urge that you issue a solicitation for the full 1,100 (megawatts) as quickly as possible,” said Abby Watson of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, which she said is the world’s largest offshore wind turbine manufacturer. “Many have mentioned the federal investment tax credit — worth roughly 12 percent of the capital cost of a farm — which will save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars.”
The rules will soon be published in the New Jersey Register, and there will be a 60-day comment period from the time of publication.
Comments may be submitted through Oct. 19 by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or on paper to: Aida Camacho-Welch, Secretary, NJBPU, ATTN: BPU Docket Number: QX18040466, 44 S. Clinton Ave., 3rd Floor, Suite 314, P.O. Box 350, Trenton, NJ 08625-0350.