Leading Light Energy lines up unrivaled support for its offshore wind bid

Numerous chambers, unions, universities and nonprofits are behind proposal that aims to bring 2,400 MW of clean energy — and promises more than $3B in economic benefits

When Leading Light Wind submitted its offshore wind project bid to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on Friday, it made sure to mention a few key things:

  • With an ability to provide 2,400 megawatts of clean energy — or enough to provide energy for 1 million homes — the bill will help the state reach its ambitious goal of 11 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2040;
  • With more than $3 billion in economic benefits for the state, including offshore wind infrastructure and supply chain investments, the bid promises to do much more than just provide energy;
  • With detailed efforts to support unions and create jobs for traditionally underserved communities — there’s a Waves to Wind program included — the bid is deep in equity and equality;
  • With plans to sit 40 miles off the coast, it’s not likely the turbines will be seen by Shore residents;
  • And, since Leading Light Wind is a partnership between lead developer Invenergy and co-developer energyRe, the bid comes from two American-based companies.

To be clear, there’s no telling how the BPU will score the four bids it received for its third offshore wind solicitation. A winner (or winners) is expected to be selected in the first quarter of 2024. It appears many key groups (chambers, unions, universities and nonprofits) already have cast their vote for Leading Light Wind.

Power in partners

A look at some of the groups supporting the offshore wind bid by Leading Light Wind.

  • African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey;
  • Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce New Jersey;
  • Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey;
  • New Jersey Chamber of Commerce;
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers;
  • EEW-AOS;
  • Rowan University;
  • Rowan College of South Jersey;
  • New Jersey Institute of Technology;
  • New Jersey Community College Consortium for Workforce and Economic Development;
  • New Jersey SHARES;
  • Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County;
  • Newlab;
  • MRV Group;
  • Waterfront Alliance;
  • Gotham Whale;
  • Children’s Environmental Literacy Foundation;
  • Zeem Solutions.

John Harmon, the CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, said his organization is on board.

“We fully support Leading Light Wind and are committed to working alongside them as they invest in the health and resiliency of New Jersey’s most vulnerable and overburdened communities,” he said. “Through their Waves to Wind program, Leading Light Wind will build an equitable offshore wind industry that prioritizes community-focused investments and critical technical assistance programs for (small, minority-, women- and veteran-owned business enterprises).”

That support was echoed by the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey, the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce and the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey.

That’s exactly what Bryan Schueler, senior executive vice president and construction business leader for Invenergy, was hoping for.

“Leading Light Wind exemplifies Invenergy’s dedication to American-led energy innovation and our unmatched ability to increase U.S. competitiveness in the offshore wind market,” he said. “With strong partners in New Jersey, we are committed to delivering the benefits of the clean energy economy to Garden State residents for generations to come.”

Schueler noted Invenergy and its affiliated companies have successfully developed more than 30,000 MW of projects that are in operation, construction or contracted, including wind, solar, transmission infrastructure and natural gas power generation and advanced energy storage projects.

Ryan Brown, the chief operating officer for energyRe — a leading independent energy company focused on solving complex sustainability challenges and providing clean energy solutions — stressed homegrown support another way.

“Leading Light Wind is ready to build out a world-leading domestic offshore wind industry with American-led ingenuity and expertise,” he said. “Our proposal for New Jersey represents critical investments in energy infrastructure, local resiliency and a just transition to a green economy. energyRe is proud to help chart a clean energy future for the Garden State.”

Here are more details of the bid.

Leading Light Wind is proposing supply chain and infrastructure investments that include localizing a wind turbine generator tower manufacturing facility and performing marshalling activities at the New Jersey Wind Port; the expansion of the EEW American Offshore Structures monopile manufacturing facility; and development of an in-state operations and maintenance port. The proposal also includes a battery storage option that would provide 253 MW of advanced energy storage to facilitate grid and ratepayer benefits, advancing New Jersey’s ambitious 2 GW energy storage target.

To support local workforce development, Leading Light Wind signed a memorandum of understanding with five New Jersey labor unions that prioritizes union construction for the project and supports lifelong career opportunities in the offshore wind sector. The MOU also endorses hiring and training practices to promote a diverse, next-generation workforce. As a part of Leading Light Wind’s larger community benefits program, the project has also formed strategic partnerships with several educational, career and workforce institutions across the Garden State.

If awarded, Leading Light Wind officials said they are committed to building an equitable offshore wind industry in New Jersey, and will establish a statewide community benefits program with up to $150 million in funding to empower local communities, build an inclusive workforce, accelerate the domestic offshore wind supply chain and pioneer industry-leading and collaborative environmental research.

The community benefits program features 25 initial partnership and program opportunities, including the following key initiatives:

  • Energy equity credit: To reduce energy burden across the state, Leading Light Wind is proposing an innovative program that would lower the electricity bills for more than 200,000 low-income households in New Jersey;
  • Waves to Wind: To prepare small businesses for success in New Jersey’s growing offshore wind sector, Leading Light Wind will create the Waves to Wind program, a catalytic training program focused on capacity-building and technical training to position existing SMWVBEs in New Jersey for success in the state’s growing offshore wind sector;
  • Leading Light Wind Fisheries Accelerator Fund: This fund is uniquely designed to directly benefit the fisheries community by providing financial assistance to support emerging technologies, and initiatives that have the potential to improve the efficiency, sustainability or economic vitality of the fishing industry;
  • Community-based partnerships: Leading Light Wind is also pursuing partnerships with local community-based organizations and institutions such as the Liberty Science Center, Rowan University, Rutgers University, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Waterfront Alliance, Gotham Whale, Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County, Zeem Solutions and more.

Leading Light Wind officials said they recognize that meaningful, robust and ongoing engagement with regulators, Tribal Nations and stakeholders is critical to New Jersey’s offshore wind program. As a committed industry partner and good neighbor, Leading Light Wind will prioritize stakeholder engagement throughout every stage of the project and is engaging with critical marine and fisheries stakeholders to ensure a burgeoning offshore wind industry can thrive alongside existing marine economies and resources.

Leading Light Wind builds upon Invenergy and energyRe’s record of proven partnership, including the development of Clean Path NY — a landmark clean energy infrastructure project combining a new 175-mile state-of-the-art 1,300 MW HVDC underground transmission line with more than 3,800 MW of new wind and solar power in New York.

Additionally, Invenergy is the only American-led company currently developing a multiproject portfolio of offshore wind across U.S. coasts following its recent acquisition of an offshore wind lease from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management off the coast of central California.