BPU set to accept 2nd round of offshore wind energy applications

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities voted Wednesday to open the application window for the state’s second solicitation of offshore wind capacity.

This second solicitation seeks to award between 1,200 megawatts and 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy, potentially tripling the state’s committed capacity, from 1,100 MW to 3,500 MW. State officials said this represents a significant milestone toward achieving Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy in New Jersey by 2035, which is projected to power 3.2 million homes with renewable energy.

The application window opens Sept. 10 and closes Dec. 10. The board anticipates awarding the resulting offshore wind projects in June 2021

The board also approved the final New Jersey Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, the state’s comprehensive roadmap for achieving 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035.

“Developing New Jersey’s offshore wind industry will bring thousands of good-paying jobs and millions of dollars in economic development to our state to aid our economic recovery from COVID-19,” Murphy said. “This second solicitation not only reinforces our commitment to fighting climate change and achieving 100% clean energy by 2050, but it secures New Jersey’s foothold as a national leader in the growing U.S. offshore wind industry.”

NJBPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said the environmental benefits and economic potential of offshore wind are more encouraging than ever.

“By investing in clean energy now, we can help get thousands of New Jerseyans back to work while building a cleaner, healthier and more resilient future for our children and grandchildren,” he said.

The state’s Offshore Wind Strategic Plan was developed by Ramboll U.S. Corp. through an extensive public stakeholder process. According to the Governor’s Office, it presents recommendations on establishing an offshore wind industry that achieves net economic benefits and gives New Jersey residents the best overall value, while also protecting the environment and commercial and recreational fishing interests and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

While developing the state’s offshore wind resources, the BPU will continue to coordinate with the state Department of Environmental Protection to identify and prioritize the research and monitoring needs of this nascent industry. Ongoing habitat surveys as well as fish and wildlife studies will provide critical data on New Jersey’s diverse and ecologically valuable natural resources, and how new offshore industries can support them.

In opening the second solicitation, the board put forth its Second Solicitation Guidance Document, which was developed through a robust public stakeholder process and provides the solicitation’s mechanics and timeline, project application requirements and evaluation criteria.

In 2019, the board made an award from its first offshore wind solicitation to Ørsted’s 1,100 MW Ocean Wind project, the largest single-project award in the country. The project, which will be built 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City and is expected to commence operations in 2024, will generate an estimated $1.17 billion in economic benefits for New Jersey and create 15,000 jobs over the 20-year life of the project.

On track with Murphy’s proposed solicitation schedule, NJBPU will vote in 2022 to open a third solicitation for offshore wind of at least 1,200 MW. Solicitations will open every two years until 2028.