SAA 2.0: BPU initiates process for another offshore wind transmission solicitation

Here we go again. On Wednesday, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities again initiated the process for an offshore wind transmission solicitation — a necessity for the state to reach its lofty goal of having 11 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2040.

The solicitation, which will again use the “state agreement approach,” was expected. It’s unclear if it will create the same level of exuberance that surrounded the first solicitation, which drew 80 different ideas from 13 companies — and millions of dollars of effort from the companies attempting to gain a share of the project.

That solicitation, due to cost consideration, ended with the selection of the Larrabee Tri-Collector Solution proposed by Mid-Atlantic Offshore Development and Jersey Central Power & Light — a selection that many found unsatisfying.

On Wednesday, the BPU announced the solicitation after it formally requested PJM Interconnection, New Jersey’s regional grid operator, to include New Jersey’s current public policy of 11 GW of offshore wind by 2040 into PJM’s Regional Transmission Expansion Planning, using its state agreement approach.

BPU President Joe Fiordaliso said the action was important to the future of our offshore wind program.

“As we look to achieve Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s new, increased goal of 11 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2040, we must create additional pathways for wind energy to be brought on shore and into the PJM grid,” he said.

This will be the state’s second use of the SAA to optimize the delivery of offshore wind generation into the state’s transmission system. It is expected that SAA 2.0 will solicit proposals to inject the additional 3.5 GW needed to reach the state’s new 11 GW goal at the Deans 500-kilovolt substation.  However, transmission developers will be allowed to propose particularly cost-effective alternative points of interconnection that may still meet the state’s immediate policy goals.

The Deans 500 kV substation was identified by PJM and board staff for SAA 2.0 because it: 1) is located near high electric load centers; 2) is accessible to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management offshore wind lease areas that are likely to service New Jersey; and 3) was previously identified by PJM as having available capability to accommodate the desired injection.

The exploration of coordinated transmission alternatives through SAA 2.0 will have no impact on the offshore wind projects that have already been awarded, or that will be awarded up to a total of 7.5 GW.

The NJBPU said it will immediately work with PJM to begin the SAA 2.0 process.

Janice Fuller, president, mid-Atlantic, Anbaric Development Partners, applauded the move.

“New Jersey has again established itself as a leader in offshore wind development. We commend Gov. Murphy, President Fiordaliso, the BPU and PJM for this critical step toward the creation of a robust and sustainable offshore wind industry and the recognition of transmission’s critical role in the industry’s success,” she said.

“Today’s board action sets the state on a course to reach its aggressive clean energy goals while also providing for significant ratepayer savings and reduced environmental impacts, all while creating a robust, resilient and future-focused transmission system. Anbaric looks forward to the opportunity to participate in this SAA process.”