BPU awards will bring N.J. a lot more than just wind energy

Commitment to jobs, building industry and social equity come with bids from Ørsted, Atlantic Shores

When the Board of Public Utilities awarded a combined 2,658 megawatts of offshore wind capacity to EDF/Shell’s Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Ørsted’s Ocean Wind II on Wednesday, it did more than just move the state halfway to its goal for offshore wind by 2035 — it gained assurances that both groups would make significant investments into the state’s goal of being an offshore wind energy leader.

As part of Ørsted’s proposal, Ocean Wind II will contribute to an expansion of the EEW Paulsboro monopile facility. The facility will be home to 500 full-time jobs and represents an investment of $250 million into southern New Jersey. Additionally, Ocean Wind II will generate over $4.8 billion in net economic benefits for the state of New Jersey, helping to further develop a strong domestic supply chain.

With Ocean Wind II, Ørsted also is bringing a commitment from an industry partner, GE Renewables, to locate what will be one of the country’s first offshore wind nacelle assembly facilities in New Jersey. This facility will assemble the nacelles for Ocean Wind II and other offshore wind projects in the U.S.

Anticipated to be located at the New Jersey Wind Port in Paulsboro, the GE nacelle assembly facility will attract subsuppliers to the state and, consequently, more manufacturing jobs. Nacelles are one of the most complex parts of a wind turbine, including generators, drive train and brake assembly, controllers, transformers and switch gear.

David Hardy, CEO of Ørsted Offshore North America, said the company is eager to be a bigger part of the New Jersey economy, particularly as it applies to wind energy.

“With the selection of Ocean Wind II, New Jersey is now firmly at the heart of the American offshore wind industry,” he said. “We thank the BPU and Gov. (Phil) Murphy for having the confidence in Ørsted to deliver over 2,000 MW of offshore wind energy, and for further strengthening the partnership between our company and the Garden State. We’re thrilled to grow this global industry alongside the state of New Jersey, as well as help all communities in the state benefit from the offshore wind industry.”

The state will get similar benefits from Atlantic Shores, a 50-50 joint venture between EDF Renewables North America and Shell New Energies U.S.

Atlantic Shores estimates its 1,510-megawatt project will bring $848 million in guaranteed local economic benefits to the state. It is the largest single project in New Jersey and the third-largest in the country.

Joris Veldhoven, commercial and finance director at Atlantic Shores, said the company is thrilled to be moving forward with the project. He said it will cement Atlantic Shores’ commitment to deliver clean, renewable power and well-paid jobs to New Jersey for years to come.

“As offshore wind prepares to take off in the United States, this is a critical moment to lay the groundwork for workforce training and supply chain development,” he said. “Our robust project includes a number of essential initiatives to train local workers and bring manufacturing jobs to the state that will ensure New Jersey workers and the local economy reap tremendous benefits.”

Veldhoven said Atlantic Shores’ project, which aims to begin construction in 2024, includes a number of essential investments and initiatives, including an agreement to train and hire local workers for the construction and maintenance of the wind project, an innovative 10 MW green hydrogen pilot with South Jersey Industries and a turbine nacelle assembly center at the New Jersey Wind Port. Over its lifetime, the wind project will create thousands of well-paying jobs.

The impact of the awards goes beyond energy and jobs. Hardy said Ørsted is working to ensure it is an equity partner in the state.

Hardy said Ocean Wind II offers significant investments for New Jersey’s environmental justice communities. Ørsted has partnered with Zeem Solutions to roll out 50 electric drayage trucks, associated vehicle infrastructure and mobility training programs for area residents at the Port of Newark.

Ocean Wind II also will establish a new 10-year, $1.5 million scholarship and career development program with the New Jersey Institute of Technology. This scholarship and career development program will create new opportunities for NJIT’s engineering and computer science undergraduate students.

The agreement also addresses STEM education gaps for underrepresented students in Newark by aiming to expand a range of STEM outreach events, initiatives and college-prep programming for local elementary, middle school and high school students at NJIT. Additionally, the scholarship program potentially creates new co-op, internship and job opportunities for NJIT students at Ørsted’s recently announced North American Digital Operations Headquarters in Newark.

While Ocean Wind I has already laid the foundation for small, women-owned and minority owned businesses to enter in the developing offshore wind industry with its $15 million Pro-NJ Grantor Trust, Ocean Wind II expands upon the commitment to ensure a strong and inclusive industry. Through a second Pro-NJ Grantor Trust, Ocean Wind II will allocate an additional $8 million for businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, that wish to enter the offshore wind industry.