Major milestone met for Ocean Wind 1 project as feds release environmental impact statement

Governor, Ørsted officials applaud release of draft, next step in regulatory process

Ocean Wind 1, the first of what the state hopes will by many offshore wind energy projects, took a big step forward Friday when the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The DEIS marks a crucial step in the project’s federal review, the culmination of extensive technical evaluations and multiagency coordination over the last year.

To be clear, the release is not the final approval step of the project — but it is a big step forward in the growth of an industry sector that the state feels will help it meet its clean-energy goals while creating a multibillion-dollar industry.

BOEM’s environmental review process will conclude with the Final EIS, which is anticipated in March 2023, and the Record of Decision in April 2023.

Gov. Phil Murphy, long a proponent of offshore wind, celebrated the release.

“With today’s release of the DEIS, New Jersey is one step closer to bringing its vision for a more sustainable future to fruition,” he said. “The multifaceted impact of Ocean Wind 1 cannot be overstated; in addition to spurring economic growth and generating new jobs, the project will help us accomplish significant (greenhouse gas) reductions, upon which the future of our state depends. Alongside our private and federal partners, we are determined to ensure that the project achieves its optimal potential while mitigating its impacts on our beautiful state’s natural ecosystems.”

Ocean Wind 1, which will be the first wind farm off the coast of New Jersey, is Ørsted’s 1,100-megawatt offshore wind farm, estimated to generate $1.17 billion in economic benefits for the state and create thousands of jobs over the life of the project.

Maddy Urbish, head of government affairs and policy in New Jersey for Ørsted, also was thrilled by the release of the DEIS.

“The release of the DEIS marks a critical and exciting permitting milestone for the project in BOEM’s review under the National Environmental Policy Act process and signifies one more step forward to contributing to New Jersey’s renewable energy goals,” she said.

“Ocean Wind 1 recognizes and understands the importance of developing and delivering New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm in a responsible way with a keen eye toward avoiding and minimizing any environmental impacts. We appreciate the efforts across all federal agencies in providing the comprehensive analysis contained within the DEIS and look forward to reviewing it in detail as we begin a robust public engagement process over the coming weeks.”

Here are the next steps in the process:

BOEM will publish the Notice of Availability on June 24, which will initiate a 45-day public comment period that closes Aug. 8.

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will thoroughly review the DEIS, which analyzes the project’s potential impacts to natural, historic and cultural resources and associated mitigation measures, and will provide feedback to BOEM as a cooperating agency.

DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said his agency appreciates the moment, noting offshore wind is a critical component of the state’s future energy portfolio.

“The release of Ocean Wind 1’s DEIS marks a significant milestone in the evaluation of the first offshore wind project off the coast of New Jersey,” he said. “Over the coming weeks, DEP will thoroughly evaluate and provide comment on the DEIS to ensure the project has taken all steps necessary to avoid potential adverse impacts to New Jersey’s natural, historic and cultural resources. I thank BOEM and NOAA for their continued partnership in the responsible development of offshore wind and look forward to engaging with stakeholders on our review.”