Murphy, trying to battle climate change and help N.J. economy, signs wind order

By Tom Bergeron
Jersey City | Nov 19, 2019 at 12:40 pm
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Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday that will more than double the state’s commitment to offshore wind energy by 2035 — a move he said is not only required in the fight against global warming, but one he feels will bring thousands of jobs to the state and help establish New Jersey as a leader in the industry.

Murphy, speaking at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City with former Vice President Al Gore, said he will proudly sign an executive order raising the state’s goal from 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind-generated electricity by 2030 to 7,500MW by 2035.

“That’s more than double the output,” he said. “That’s more investment. That’s more jobs.”

Murphy said he views the decision this past June to award the state’s first 1,100MW solicitation to Ørsted as just one in what will be a series of chapters that New Jersey will write as it moves forward.

He said last fall’s trip to Germany — where he pitched the benefits of offshore wind energy plants in the state — is starting to pay off, too.

“I made the pitch to them about all the advantages New Jersey holds for the future of this growing industry,” he said. “Our advantageous location. Our talented people. Our forward-leaning values. Our focus on innovation.

“One of those companies, EEW, is now partnering with Ørsted on developing the first major U.S.-based offshore-wind manufacturing facility in New Jersey. Another, EnBW, recently opened its first U.S. office, right here in Jersey City.

“We’re not just on the map. We’re becoming the starting point for the entire country. In fact, between the (Economic Development Authority) and our partners at Choose New Jersey, we are currently in discussions with 50-plus different companies because of our aggressive clean-energy strategy.”

This push, he said, will be great for the New Jersey economy.

“I have cited it before, and it bears repeating,” he said. “Last year, the organization Environmental Entrepreneurs — made up of investors and business leaders — put it into basic dollars and cents for us.

“For every $1 invested in offshore wind in New Jersey, the economic payback is nearly twice that — providing the highest return on investment of any state in the Northeast or Mid-Atlantic. This is hundreds of millions of dollars in new infrastructure, and hundreds of millions of dollars in wages to workers.

“We know that our current 3,500MW goal can provide upwards of 4,300 jobs. Imagine what we can do when we dream bigger.”

Of course, Murphy’s long-stated goal is to reduce the state’s carbon emission to net zero. This executive order, he said, is another step in that direction.

“When we reach our goal of 7,500 megawatts, New Jersey’s offshore wind infrastructure will generate electricity to power more than 3.2 million homes and meet 50% of our state’s electric power need,” he said. “Our offshore wind industry will generate billions of dollars in investments in New Jersey’s future that will, in turn, create thousands of jobs.”

The transition, he said, won’t be easy, but he feels it will be worth it.

“Indeed, we are putting ourselves on a steeper curve — but I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t totally confident in our ability to crest this hill,” he said. “I pledged from the very beginning that New Jersey would be a leader — we are, and then some.

“There is no other renewable energy resource that provides us with either the electric-generation or economic-growth potential of offshore wind. Nearly half of our state’s greenhouse gas output stems from our transportation sector — from the cars on our roads and the trucks idling in our ports. We must build the electrification infrastructure necessary to support more electric vehicles.

“These are big goals, and tough challenges. But we can achieve them. We are up to them. New Jersey has always been a state of strivers. There’s no better time than now for us to go full Jersey.”

Gore, who served as President Bill Clinton’s vice president and has since been noted for his environmental work, said: “As our federal government abdicates its responsibility to confront the climate crisis, our transition to a clean energy future is being led by states like New Jersey, and by leaders like my friend Gov. Phil Murphy. Today’s announcement couldn’t be more timely and more needed, as climate-related extreme weather events continue to wreak havoc on our communities.

“With this executive order, Gov. Murphy is unleashing the unprecedented economic and job-creating opportunities of clean, wind energy.”

To read the executive order, click here.