Governor Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday to return the state to national leadership in offshore wind energy.
New Jersey will finally implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, which languished under Gov. Chris Christie, Murphy said at a press conference at the Atlantic County Utilities Authority’s wind farm and wastewater treatment plant.
The law creates ratepayer-financing of wind field development through an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program. But Christie’s administration never finalized regulations to implement it, and developers have not received the approvals from the Board of Public Utilities to move forward, Murphy said.
The order commits the state to quickly generate 1,100 megawatts annually of offshore wind energy, and 3,500 megawatts of generation by the year 2030 — enough to power 1.5 million homes, according to Murphy.
“Thirty-five hundred megawatts would make us, I think, the number one aspirational wind field in the world,” Murphy said. Scale, reliability and predictability will make it possible to attract manufacturing, the governor said.
Environment New Jersey Director Doug O’Malley said New York and Massachusetts have goals of 2,400 and 1,600 megawatts, respectively.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a co-sponsor of OWEDA, said the plan is not just to place windmills in the ocean, but to jump-start a wind-energy manufacturing industry.
Murphy’s executive order directs the BPU to begin the rulemaking process and to work with the Department of Environmental Protection to establish an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan.
The BPU must implement a renewable energy credit program and solicit for projects to generate 1,100 megawatts of electric power.
“This is great news for the people of New Jersey and a positive step forward in bringing offshore wind to the state,” said Thomas Brostrom, president of Orsted North America. The company holds a lease to develop Ocean Wind, a project with the potential to generate 1,000 megawatts of offshore wind about 10 miles off Atlantic City.
That’s enough to supply energy for 500,000 homes, Brostrom has said. It is on track to open between 2020 and 2025 if renewable energy credits are in place.
A second major wind development off the Jersey Shore is planned for 183,353 acres leased by U.S. Wind Inc., while a small, 24-megawatt offshore wind project by Fishermen’s Energy failed to meet federal government deadlines to get funding. Its cost of providing energy was deemed too high by New Jersey officials.
The order sends a clear message that New Jersey is serious about being the greenest state in the country, while creating good-paying, clean-energy jobs, said Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.
“It’s hard to think of a more appropriate location than Atlantic City for this announcement — a city that is both on the frontlines of climate change and brimming with economic potential,” Potosnak said.
New Jersey Audubon President and Chief Executive Officer Eric Stiles said his organization is happy that protection of wildlife is built into the plan.
“New Jersey has to live up to its responsibility for global warming, given how much of the coast is at stake for sea level rise,” Stiles said.
On Monday, Murphy signed an executive order requiring the DEP and BPU to take steps for New Jersey to rejoin the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.
And on Thursday, state Sen. Patrick Diegnan, D-Middlesex; Assemblyman Tim Eustace, D-Bergen, Passaic; and several environmental organizations will hold a press conference in Trenton on two clean-energy bills (A1823 and S1405). They will require New Jersey to move to 100 percent clean energy by 2035.