The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) today approved two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) that will make nearly $6 million available to support offshore wind and other clean energy projects in the state. Under the agreements, New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program™ (NJCEP), which is administered by BPU, will provide $4.5 million to support NJEDA-led workforce development projects aimed at preparing more New Jersey workers for jobs in offshore wind, and $1.25 million to support early-stage, New Jersey-based cleantech companies.
“Ever since Governor Murphy took office, we have been moving at a whirlwind pace on offshore wind, and especially with the twin crises of COVD-19’s economic devastation and climate change, we are not slowing down any time soon. Fueling our clean energy renaissance will be renewables like offshore wind, and since these industries don’t build themselves, we couldn’t be prouder to be developing a homegrown, inclusive, world-class workforce of cleantech and offshore wind technicians right here in the Garden State. New Jersey has the wind, and the time to get in on our new innovation economy – located in the strong winds right off our 130-mile coastline – is now,” said BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso.
“Clean energy is the future and positioning New Jersey to lead the way in offshore wind and other clean energy initiatives is crucial not only to growing our state’s economy, but also to creating good jobs and business opportunities for workers and business owners in New Jersey,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan. “The NJEDA’s partnership with the BPU will prepare New Jersey students and workers for clean energy jobs coming to our state and help innovative New Jersey companies lead in the clean energy and cleantech space. These are important steps that will support workers and companies impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and pave the way for a strong, sustainable recovery.”
Both Gov. Phil Murphy’s ambitious New Jersey Energy Master Plan released earlier this year and his visionary Stronger and Fairer Economic Plan identify offshore wind and clean energy as target sectors that have strong potential to drive long-term, sustainable economic growth in New Jersey. In line with these plans, New Jersey has committed to producing 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035 and a wave of offshore wind projects is slated for development along the East Coast, with the first project – Ørsted’s Ocean Wind – coming online in 2024.
Earlier this year, the Governor’s WIND Council released a report outlining recommendations for the creation of the WIND Institute to coordinate workforce and innovation efforts to position New Jersey as a leader in offshore wind and to ensure equitable access to opportunities in this new and expanding industry for minorities and women. With the MOUs approved today, the NJEDA and BPU will jumpstart progress toward implementing these recommendations with a total of $5.75 million in funding.
The first MOU provides $4.5 million to support offshore wind workforce development projects. Examples of these programs include: a competition to develop the first Global Wind Organization (GWO) safety training program in the Mid-Atlantic region; best-in-class wind turbine technician training programs; a plan to establish pathways for New Jersey students and workers to enter the offshore wind industry; and seminars about offshore wind job creation for labor unions, high schools, vocational technical schools, colleges, and universities so that students, energy workers, and job seekers can train to work in the industry.
In the second MOU, BPU will provide $1.25 million to fund programs supporting innovative, early-stage cleantech companies in New Jersey. The NJEDA plans to use this funding in partnership with the New Jersey Commission on Science Innovation and Technology (NJCSIT) to develop a seed grant program that will aid local cleantech businesses during critical proof of concept and prototyping stages. The NJEDA also intends to execute a research and development asset mapping and voucher initiative to increase equitable access to and utilization of the State’s existing cleantech innovation programs and initiatives.
The funding will be utilized immediately, with the aim of establishing operational programs by mid-2021.