South Jersey business leader: State needs to press on with offshore wind industry goals

Asselta, head of Southern New Jersey Development Council: Industry is good for clean energy, economic future of region

As the world grapples with the urgent need to transition towards cleaner, more sustainable energy sources, New Jersey stands at the forefront of a groundbreaking movement — the development of its offshore wind industry. This ambitious venture not only promises to revolutionize the state’s energy landscape, but serves as a shining example of responsible environmental stewardship and economic revitalization.

Yes, Ørsted’s cancelation of the Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects was a setback, but New Jersey’s continued commitment to offshore wind power is a beacon of hope for a future where renewable energy takes center stage in our fight against climate change. The Garden State has set an ambitious target to generate 11,000 megawatts of energy from offshore wind by 2040. The continued allegiance of the state and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to deliver a first-in-the-nation purpose-built Wind Port in Salem County clearly demonstrates a commitment to forge ahead and meet these targets head-on.

One of the most compelling reasons to support this burgeoning new industry in New Jersey is the wave of economic opportunities that the development of offshore wind farms will usher into our region. The construction, operation and maintenance of these wind farms create a multitude of jobs across various sectors, from engineering and manufacturing to logistics and services. This not only bolsters the state’s economy, but fosters a skilled workforce, paving the way for a more resilient and diverse job market.

In addition to job creation, the offshore wind industry provides a catalyst for local economic development. The establishment of wind farms necessitates investments in port infrastructure, transmission facilities and supply chain networks, revitalizing not only our coastal communities, but those underserved and often-neglected communities as well, while positioning southern New Jersey as a hub for clean energy innovation. This transformative impact extends beyond the immediate scope of the wind farms, creating a ripple effect that positively influences the state’s overall economic prosperity. These are just a few of the reasons the Southern New Jersey Development Council continues to be an unwavering supporter of the New Jersey’s offshore wind industry.

Critics may raise concerns about the visual impact of offshore wind turbines or the potential disruption to marine ecosystems. However, advancements in technology and careful planning can address these issues, ensuring that the development of the offshore wind industry is both responsible and sustainable. Additionally, the long-term benefits to the environment and the economy far outweigh any short-term challenges.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s commitment to developing a vibrant offshore wind industry is a visionary and commendable step towards a cleaner, more sustainable future. By harnessing the winds of progress, the state is not only safeguarding the environment but also fostering economic growth, job creation and technological innovation. As residents of the Garden State, we should embrace and champion this transformative endeavor, recognizing that our support today will pave the way for a brighter, greener tomorrow.

Marlene Asselta is the president of the Southern New Jersey Development Council, a nonprofit member-based organization that promotes responsible economic development in the southern eight counties of New Jersey.