Danish firm hopes A.C. wind project will get new look

Gov. Phil Murphy made it very clear in his inaugural speech that attempts from President Donald Trump’s administration to allow oil drilling off the Shore would be resisted.

Attempts to get wind energy off the Jersey Shore? That’s a different story. One that’s been followed on the other side of the Atlantic.

A Danish firm was perhaps more interested than anyone outside the Atlantic Seaboard in what was going on with New Jersey’s gubernatorial race.

It’s no wonder.

Lauren Burm, head of public affairs for Denmark-based Ørsted, formerly DONG Energy, said the location the company has long been eyeing for an offshore wind farm project — 10 miles off of Atlantic City’s coast — couldn’t be better.

“The preliminary data we’ve gotten is that this is a world-class location to generate power from offshore wind,” she said.

Depending on several factors, conditions are such that the proposed wind farm infrastructure may have the capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts, Burm said.

“And aside from the renewable aspect, there’s also a boost in terms of jobs and economic development from these projects that we’ve seen in Europe,” she said. “So, we’re excited about bringing that to the region, too.”

That and more were surely discussed in meetings that occurred between Ørsted, an international company that has mainly focused on projects in European nations, and Murphy’s team prior to his inauguration.

Burm didn’t go into detail about those talks, but generally spoke to the offshore wind project fitting into Murphy’s agenda.

“We know renewable energy is something Gov. Murphy is in favor of,” she said. “We’re very excited to have him to work closely with, as well as his administration, the state Legislature and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.”

This could potentially be Ørsted’s first U.S. offshore wind project that goes online, depending on the length of a permitting process that will precede its proposed 2020 completion.

Whether the new face of Trenton would look to streamline that or invite additional wind development to achieve a stated goal of having 1.3 million homes powered by wind by 2030 hasn’t been addressed.

“It’s still so early on that I don’t know if anyone has all the answers yet,” Michael Sinkebich Jr., an attorney and shareholder at the environmental issue-focused law firm Lieberman & Blecher P.C., said. “But it’s an exciting time regardless.”

The shape of water

A lot of attention will focus on the role utilities start to play in fulfilling Gov. Phil Murphy’s pledge to get New Jersey on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050.

Water, as well as it flows in the ocean and rivers, takes a lot of energy to move through pipes.

That means New Jersey American Water, the state’s largest water utility, has a hefty need that it’s trying to approach with renewable energy sources today.

New Jersey American Water spokeswoman Denise Venuti Free said the utility has already installed solar arrays at four surface water treatment facilities and two groundwater treatment facilities. This provides between 3 million and 3.5 million kilowatt-hours of solar energy.

It’s only 1.5 percent of the utility’s total annual energy consumption at this point. But the larger company that the state utility is a subsidiary of — also based in New Jersey — maintains a portfolio of alternative energy supplies with a solar output that reached 3,059 megawatt-hours in 2016.

Conversation Starter

Reach Michael Sinkevich of Lieberman & Blecher at: mgs@liebermanblecher.com or (732) 355-1311.