Two-thirds of New Jersey residents are in favor of building wind energy off the state’s coast, a Monmouth University poll released Wednesday found.
The poll found 76% of people living in the Garden State support wind farms, while 15% oppose them, according to the survey, which comes a few months before the state Board of Public Utilities is expected to choose which energy companies will receive ratepayer subsidies to build in federal waters.
Support for the renewable energy source has dropped slightly over the past decade, ranging between 80% and 84% in polls taken between 2008 and 2011, according to the Monmouth researchers. It’s still more popular among New Jerseyans than drilling for oil and the expansion of nuclear power.
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“There seems to be a recognition that the long-term economic and environmental benefits of investing in clean, renewable energy sources outweigh any short-term costs,” said Tony MacDonald of the Urban Coast Institute.
Three energy firms — Orsted, Equinor and EDF Renewables — submitted proposals to the state last year to build turbines off the coast. Two of the three projects were proposed for Atlantic City’s waters.
The BPU has said it will not release each projects’ expected costs until the winning bid or bids are chosen, citing the information as confidential and proprietary.
While residents support wind energy, 45% said they would oppose the plans if it increases electricity rates.
But only 15% of residents expect their utility rates to be higher 10 years from now, the survey found.
“This could be tricky for clean energy advocates. Support for wind energy could drop once New Jersey ratepayers become aware of any development costs they will have to bear,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.
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He said it’s also possible ratepayers will get on board if they believe the burgeoning energy source will have environmental benefits. According to the poll, 58% of New Jerseyans said they would support offshore wind even if their rates increased if they also felt it would reduce carbon emissions.
Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal of generating 3,500 megawatts of electricity from offshore wind by 2030. Support for wind energy in New Jersey is high among both Democrats, at 79%, and Republicans, at 69%.