Atlantic City has one of New Jersey's first wind farms

Atlantic City has one of New Jersey's first wind farms, the 7.5 megawatt Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm that opened in 2005 on the grounds of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority's wastewater treatment facility off Route 30.

Ocean Wind LLC, which owns Orsted, the Danish power company, has decided to bring offshore wind power to the shut down Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Forked River, Lacey Township.

Orsted won approval from the state Board of Public Utilities to build a 1,100-megawatt, $1.6 billion offshore wind facility close to 15 miles away from the coast of Atlantic City.

The wind farm has both an offshore and an onshore component. Orsted was choosing among Atlantic City, Ocean City and Ocean County as the location for the substation on land.

In June, Ocean Wind LLC proposed to mitigate the costs of transmission system upgrades through the use of capacity interconnection rights. Last Wednesday, the Board of Public Utilities said Ocean Wind’s procurement of the Oyster Creek capacity interconnection rights is in the best interest of the state’s ratepayers.

“Last week we experienced a project milestone when the BPU approved our request to purchase capacity interconnection rights, known as CIRs, for our Ocean Wind project,” said Lauren Burm, head of Public Affairs and Communications for Orsted. “This action provides the project with additional certainty in the interconnection process and advances our efforts to potentially connect the wind farm to the existing electrical grid infrastructure at the retired Oyster Creek nuclear facility. ...

“The region’s grid operator, PJM, allows retiring or recently-retired power plants the ability to sell CIRs to proposed power generators such as Ocean Wind. These rights allow newly proposed generators the ability to replace the retired/retiring generator at a similar scale at the same or nearby location without significant costs allocated to the new project. Without CIRs, interconnection costs can be highly uncertain and potentially very costly as determined by extensive study by the grid operator, PJM.”

Oyster Creek, formerly the oldest operating nuclear plant in the nation, closed in September 2018 and entered the decommissioning stage.

The 1,100-megawatt offshore wind project is expected to power roughly 500,000 homes in the state and generate $1.17 billion in economic benefits in addition to creating an estimated 15,000 jobs over the project’s life.

Construction is planned to start in the early 2020s, with the wind farm operational in 2024.

Progress is finally being made in getting offshore wind to be a reality in this state, said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“Oyster Creek is a very good location for Orsted to build an offshore wind farm,” said Tittel in a statement. “There are substations and power lines already in place to connect to. This is important to get the power on land without building any more power lines.”

By building the onshore component in Ocean County, it makes it easier to bring power up into the areas that need it most, especially in central New Jersey, where there are several proposed natural gas power plants, Tittel said.

“It is important that the former nuclear station will be replaced by reliable and cost-effective energy that will reduce greenhouse gases and help the state move forward on renewable energy,” Tittel said in a statement.

In June, when the Board of Public Utilities gave the offshore wind contract to Orsted’s Ocean Wind Project, it set the record for the single largest award for offshore wind in the country and marked progress toward meeting the state’s goal of 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision of 100% clean energy for the state by 2050.

Orsted constructed the world’s first wind farm in 1991, Vindeby Offshore Wind Farm off an island in Denmark, and built this country’s first wind farm in 2016 off the coast of Rhode Island, said Kris Ohleth, senior stakeholder relations manager of Orsted, during a public meeting last month in Atlantic City.

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