N.J. to build massive Wind Port facility in Salem County, with aim of becoming supply chain leader in sector

File photos Renderings of the Wind Port project.

Gov. Phil Murphy announced Monday that the state will develop the New Jersey Wind Port — a 200-plus-acre facility in Lower Alloways Creek Township that it hopes will serve as a location for essential staging, assembly and manufacturing activities related to offshore wind projects on the East Coast.

Murphy said the project has the potential to create up to 1,500 manufacturing, assembly and operations jobs, as well as hundreds of construction jobs. The project, which is estimated to cost between $300 million and $400 million, could begin as soon as first quarter of 2021.

Twitter/Gov. Phil Murphy
A logo for the new Wind Port project.

Murphy called it a win-win. In addition to the economic boost that will come from creating the needed pieces for offshore wind farms, he said he feels it will play a huge part in meeting his green energy goals — reaching 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035 and 100% clean energy by 2050.

“This is a huge deal,” Murphy said at his daily COVID-19 briefing. “If we just generated energy through offshore wind and didn’t have any supply chain (benefits) and didn’t have anything other than construction-related union jobs, it would still be a very bright future in New Jersey. This is more. This is a lot more.”

Murphy said the ability to grab a large part of the supply chain of the industry in New Jersey — and to have it be in Salem County, which is struggling economically, are pluses.

According to state officials, construction is planned in two phases, beginning in 2021. Phase 1 will develop a 30-acre site to accommodate marshaling activities and a 25-acre component manufacturing site. Phase 2 adds another 150-plus acres to accommodate expanded marshaling activities and extensive manufacturing facilities for turbine components, such as blades and nacelles.

The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will be leading development and is currently considering a range of public, private and public-private partnership financing options, the state said.

Murphy and EDA CEO Tim Sullivan both said geography helps make New Jersey the perfect candidate for offshore wind projects.

Sullivan, appearing at the governor’s briefing, said the site is a perfect fit.

“The size and scale of the infrastructure that is required to build these wind farms is staggering,” he said. “You’re talking about infrastructure that is as tall as the Eiffel Tower, in some cases. That means you can’t just build them anywhere and assemble them anywhere, because they go out to sea upright.

“You need to find a site for that is not only long water, but it’s outside of major bridges. Doesn’t have electrical wiring, other infrastructure that hangs over it, and can get out to sea pretty quickly.

An overview rendering of the plans.

“The site here in Salem County, which is right adjacent to the PSEG nuclear facility, in Lower Alloways Creek is something of a unicorn in that regard. It’s 200-plus acres, not particularly close to anyone’s house, right on the water, with all the attractive physical infrastructure you’d ever want and more or less shovel-ready and ready to go.”

Murphy said the state also benefits from the physical geography of its coastline areas.

“We got a gift as it relates to off-shore wind — not only in our location, but the shelf under the ocean off our shores comes into a very nice cupping and sort of plateaus out there for many miles,” he said.

Sullivan credited the Murphy administration for helping develop the project, though much of it was handled by the EDA’s Office of Economic Transformation, under the leadership of Brian Sabina.

“When (Murphy) first took office, we started talking a lot about how to pursue economic development differently and more broadly,” Sullivan said. “One of the things we did was set up this Office of Economic Transformation. A lot of people said, what does that mean? It means projects like this that are game-changers to support brand new industries.”

Sullivan said the economic development opportunities are huge.

“We think the economic impact of this is going to be extraordinary here,” he said. “This is $300-$400 million green infrastructure investment, right as we need it most — as we begin to bounce back from this terrible pandemic.

“We’re talking about 1,500 permanent jobs in manufacturing, assembly operations, talking about hundreds of construction jobs that would start as early as the first quarter of 2021. And we estimate that this port will drive a half a billion dollars of annual economic activity every single year.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford) applauded the announcement and the impact it will have on his home region, South Jersey.

“The New Jersey Wind Port will be an incredible project that benefits the entire state, but it will be particularly important for South Jersey,” he said in a statement. “Creating thousands of jobs in a region that has been overlooked in the past is crucial to addressing our current economic challenges and laying the foundation for future economic growth.”

Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-West Deptford) also cheered the announcement.

“Bringing thousands of high-quality jobs and millions of dollars in contract opportunities for small businesses to South Jersey is just what we need as we recover from the brutal economic impact of COVID-19 on our region of the state,” he said.

Studies by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, U.S. Department of Energy and offshore wind project developers have highlighted the need for new port facilities designed specifically to meet the offshore wind industry’s unique needs.

For example, wind turbines must be partially assembled at a port and then shipped out to the ocean vertically, with components as tall as 500 feet. When fully constructed on the ocean, the turbines selected for New Jersey’s first offshore wind project will be more than 850 feet tall. Given the height of the turbines, offshore wind marshaling ports must be located outside of all vertical restrictions, such as bridges, and must have wharfs that can accommodate up to 800 tons, or more than two fully loaded Boeing 777s. Most existing port infrastructure along the East Coast is unable to accommodate this work.

The New Jersey Wind Port will be located on an artificial island on the eastern shores of the Delaware River, southwest of the city of Salem. The site was selected after a 22-month assessment process, including engagement with industry, government and environmental stakeholders. The site is more than five miles from the nearest New Jersey residential area, can be built to meet the offshore wind industry’s needs, and has ample space to grow operations over time.

The NJEDA is leading development on behalf of the state and is working closely with the landowner, Public Service Enterprise Group.

PSEG Chairman and CEO Ralph Izzo was thrilled by the announcement.

“Achieving a clean energy future is vital for New Jersey’s environment and economy,” he said in a statement. “From the New Jersey Wind Port to the state’s target of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035, we applaud Gov. Murphy’s leadership in bringing the environmental and economic benefits to all of the people of the state. PSEG is New Jersey’s leading source of clean energy, and — from offshore wind and solar to preserving nuclear energy and energy efficiency — we are proud to play a central role in advancing the state’s clean energy future.”

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