Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the state Board of Public Utilities, wasn’t exaggerating when he called its unanimous approval of Ørsted to build New Jersey’s big initial offshore wind farm “historic.”
This first tapping of a vast New Jersey clean-energy resource will produce enough power for 500,000 homes (1.1 megawatts), create 15,000 jobs over its 25-year lifespan and bring $1.2 billion in economic benefits to the state.
There are many reasons for South Jersey to welcome offshore wind in general and Danish-based Ørsted in particular. The company’s preliminary preparations during the bidding process suggest the region will play a big role in its offshore wind development 15 miles off Atlantic City.
Ørsted has arranged with Stockton University to support research, academic programs and events at the school. It has partnered with Rowan University on engineering clinics to train students in renewable energy.
It also has partnered with a council of area unions to build its wind farm, signing a memorandum of understanding with the South Jersey Building and Construction Trades Council. That’s an important step in New Jersey.
And Ørsted has been studying two closed South Jersey energy plants — B.L. England in Upper Township and Oyster Creek in Lacey Township — as possible locations for bringing its wind power ashore and getting it into the grid.
Construction on the wind farm is expected to start next year and be completed by 2024. During that time, the company has said, it will generate 1,000 construction jobs and another 100 permanent jobs.
And this is only the beginning. New Jersey already plans to authorize another 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030, with bids awarded next year and in 2022. Ørsted expects its Ocean Wind project off Atlantic City to eventually produce 3 megawatts.
The bid awarded to create the first section of the wind farm is expected to cost residential electricity customers a surprisingly reasonable $1.46 a month. Future costs weren’t clear in the state’s recently released draft Energy Master Plan, but that’s a good start.
Gov. Phil Murphy did a great job of expediting offshore wind development after predecessor, former Gov. Chris Christie, failed to even begin exploring its extraordinary value. That saved state residents and businesses money by qualifying Ørsted for an expected 12 percent federal tax credit before it expired.
With strong and reliable winds and a shallow continental shelf that is easier for deploying wind turbines, New Jersey has an excellent chance to be a major player in what is expected to be a $70-billion-a-year industry.
Years from now, expect Murphy and Ørsted to both get credit for helping transform energy in New Jersey.