WIND FARM TOUR

ACUA wind farm and wind turbines help power the ACUA wastewater plant in Atlantic City. July 11, 2016. (The Press of Atlantic City/ Viviana Pernot)

ATLANTIC CITY — A firm hoping to build wind turbines off the city’s coast is opening an office in the resort this summer, the second offshore wind company to set up shop on the island in the past year.

Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind LLC is searching for a small space to house about 10 employees, said Chris Hart, president and managing director of the company.

“We want to lay our foundation in Atlantic City,” Hart said. “We’re working with a developer to find the perfect spot for us.”

The firm, a joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies, isn’t the only company interested in Atlantic City’s waters, which researchers say provides a good environment for wind farms.

Atlantic Shores submitted a bid in December to the state Board of Public Utilities to build eight to 20 miles out in federal waters. It wants to build in a 180,000-acre lease area between Atlantic City and Barnegat Light a project capable of generating 2,500 megawatts of wind energy.

The firm, along with two other wind companies, is waiting for the state utility agency to select which firms will receive ratepayer subsidies for 1,100-megawatt wind projects — a decision that will come by the end of June.

Hart said as many as 10 workers in the office will focus on “early development work” until its wind energy plans are approved and funded.

If it moves forward, Hart said, more employees will be hired at the site for operations and upkeep of the turbines in the coming years. The state is opening two additional 1,200-megawatt solicitations of offshore wind capacity in 2020 and 2022.

Workers will need to take transfer vessels to the turbines for periodic maintenance throughout the wind farms’ life of about 20 to 30 years. Hart hopes Atlantic Shores will be running by 2025.

“The real value (of the office) is around operations and maintenance of the wind farm once it’s built. ... Instead of taking a truck out to the site, you’re taking a boat,” said Hart, who joined the firm last year after working in leadership positions at the U.S. Department of Energy.

He also led ExxonMobil’s review of the world’s largest floating offshore wind project in Norway.

Atlantic Shore is one of two renewable energy companies that has set its sights on Atlantic City.

Danish company Orsted opened an office in the city last spring on the ground floor of the Bella Condominiums facing Pacific Avenue as it gears up for its 3,000 megawatt Ocean Wind project planned for 10 miles off Atlantic City’s shoreline.

The company said it will generate 1,000 jobs during its two- to three-year construction cycle and another 100 permanent jobs for 25 years.

New Jersey’s ambitious offshore wind goals come as states up and down the East Coast compete to construct turbines that will create jobs and jump start local economies. The state’s emerging offshore wind industry is expected to produce 15,000 jobs through 2030, according to New Jersey’s draft Energy Master Plan for 2019 released Monday.

In the race to build, the Jersey Shore may be a prime location for offshore wind, said Joseph Brodie, director of atmospheric research at Rutgers University’s Center for Ocean Observing Leadership.

That’s because the winds are strong and reliable, he said, which ensures there will be a constant source of energy generation. New Jersey also has a broad, shallow continental shelf, making it easier to build there, he said.

“(The companies) looked at a lot of different factors,” Brodie said. “And they determined those were the best spots in the state to build turbines.”

Another phenomenon called “upwelling” that is common along the New Jersey coast in the summer and fall makes the area ripe for wind farms, according to research last year from Rutgers. Upwelling occurs when wind is blowing along the coastline and water in deeper levels of the ocean rises to the surface, making sea breezes more intense.

“New Jersey is unique in that respect,” Seroka told The Press of Atlantic City. “It is home to some of the strongest upwelling along the U.S. East Coast.”

Contact: 609-272-7258 AZoppo@pressofac.com Twitter @AvalonZoppo

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