Over 240 offshore wind energy supporters attended Time for Turbines III at the Stockton University Atlantic City campus on Friday.
“We have the resources and capacity to be the national frontrunner in the offshore wind industry,” state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) said at the event. “As the renewable energy sector of the economy grows, we have an obligation not only to our environment but to New Jersey workers to make it a priority.”
Jersey Renews, a coalition of labor, community and environmental organizations, and Maryland-based nonprofit the Business Network for Offshore Wind partnered for the event and what they called a day full of information-sharing and networking to support the development of a just and sustainable offshore wind industry in the state.
“Given the impacts and urgency of climate change that we are facing on the shoreline, it is inspiring to see all of the ways that state government and the offshore wind industry are working together to bring utility-scale clean energy to ratepayers as soon as possible,” said Liz Burdock, executive director, Business Network for Offshore Wind.
Gov. Phil Murphy announced his signing of Executive Order No. 79 establishing the New Jersey WIND Institute from a video recording at the event before offshore wind developers, state officials, labor leaders and environmentalists delivered presentations on the industry’s progress in the last year and future developments.
“The broad coalition of stakeholders here today from New Jersey’s business, labor and environmental communities underscores the importance of the offshore wind industry to our state,” U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said.
State Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso spoke about the BPU’s Energy Master Plan and Offshore Wind Strategic Plan as ongoing projects.
“As the serious impacts of the climate crisis are arriving much more quickly than anticipated, it is imperative to do all we can to mitigate those effects,” he said.
State Economic Development Authority CEO Tim Sullivan and Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo delivered opening remarks, which turned into a state government panel with officials from the Governor’s Office, BPU, Department of Environmental Protection and EDA.
“New Jersey is poised to become the nation’s leader in offshore wind generation,” BPU Commissioner Bob Gordon said. “Not only will the state reap the benefits of clean, reliable and renewable power, but we will create a whole new industry that will produce thousands of high-skilled jobs, rebuild our manufacturing sector and revitalize our ports.”
Another top panel at the event consisted of the offshore wind developers, including Denmark-based Ørsted, Atlantic City-based offshore wind firm Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Norway-based energy company Equinor.
“The economic benefits and supply chain opportunities that come as part of this new industry will have long-lasting effects throughout the region and the country,” said Lauren Burm, head of public affairs and communications, Ørsted North America.
A green transportation panel in the afternoon, chaired by Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, talked again about the state’s potential in the offshore wind industry.
“New Jersey has a clean energy gold mine of offshore wind right off the Jersey Shore, and we are on the cusp of tapping this renewable energy to power our state and region,” O’Malley said.
A labor panel at the event was moderated by Debra Coyle McFadden, executive director, New Jersey Work Environment Council, and included an assistant commissioner at the Department of Labor & Workforce Development and leaders from the Carpenters, United Steelworkers, Blue Green Alliance and IBEW unions.
The event also received major organizational support from Environment New Jersey, the New Jersey Work Environment Council, Stockton University and the Energy Foundation.