BPU awards offshore wind projects to Leading Light Wind, Attentive Energy

Agency says projects expected to power 1.8M homes, put $6.8M into economy and create 5,000 full-time jobs — all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by one-third

In what can only be seen as confirmation that New Jersey’s plans to go all-in on offshore wind are still on, the state’s Board of Public Utilities on Wednesday approved two projects that aim to provide a total of 3,742 megawatts of offshore wind capacity.

Invenergy Wind LLC and energyRE were awarded the right to develop the Leading Light Wind project, which will provide 2,400 MW and is expected to power over 1 million homes with clean power.

Attentive Energy was given a project award that will provide 1,342 MW.

Together, the two projects will power over 1.8 million homes combined, inject $6.8 billion into the New Jersey economy and yield over 5,000 full-time equivalent job years, the BPU estimated.

The two projects will interconnect at the Larrabee Collector Station and utilize the Prebuild Infrastructure resulting from BPU’s PBI solicitation.

Damian Bednarz, managing director at Attentive Energy, a joint venture of TotalEnergies and Corio Generation, said the group is grateful for the confidence Gov. Phil Murphy and the BPU has shown in them.

“This contract award comes after four years of extensive community outreach with local stakeholders, including elected leaders, environmental justice groups, labor advocates and local residents, among many others,” he said.

“The Attentive Energy Two project is a community-driven project committed to building strong partnerships, strengthening the local supply chain and developing a skilled workforce.”

Officials from Leading Light Wind also said the group was grateful.

“New Jersey’s selection of an American-led project is a tremendous step forward for the growth of the domestic offshore wind industry,” they said in a statement. “We are reviewing the order from the BPU and look forward to the opportunity to continue our work with the state and our many community partners to deliver a responsibly developed project that advances New Jersey’s clean energy transition.” 

The bids are the first to win BPU approval since Ørsted announced Oct. 31 of last year that it would cease development on two 1,100 MW wind farms off of New Jersey’s coast, citing inflation, interest rate hikes and supply chain issues. At the time, some questioned the vitality of the industry in the state.

BPU President Christine Guhl-Sadovy said the announcement shows the sector is strong.

“In spite of some setbacks, we’re on track,” she said. “If anything, this solicitation award shows that we’re moving full steam ahead.

“These two projects will help cement New Jersey’s position as an offshore wind leader and bring the clean energy and economic benefits to our state.”

The two projects also are expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 6.4 million short tons annually from the electricity sector — a total that represents approximately one-third of New Jersey’s current greenhouse gas emissions.

The BPU said these projects move New Jersey closer to Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of 11 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2040 and 100% clean energy by 2035.

Paulina Banasiak O’Connor, who was named the inaugural executive director of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Alliance earlier this week, said her group was pleased.

“Today’s historic announcement will play a critical role in meeting New Jersey’s ambitious and necessary goal of 11,000 megawatts by 2040,” she said. “Our industry is committed to work collaboratively with the state’s leaders toward a cleaner and more prosperous tomorrow.”

BPU officials said the projects will bring a number of economic benefits, including helping the state further develop its aim of establishing the state as a hub for offshore wind along the Eastern seaboard — and proving support to develop a state-based OSW workforce and supply chain.

According to the state, this portfolio offers:

  • Approximately $2.5 billion in guaranteed direct spending through the first 10 years of operation and a total of $6.8 billion in total economic benefits to New Jersey (including direct, indirect and induced economic benefits) over the anticipated life of the projects;
  • More than 5,000 guaranteed direct full-time job years to the state through the first 10 years of operation and an estimated 27,000 total jobs (direct, indirect, induced) to the state over the useful life of the projects, expected to be 30-plus years.

All this was great news to William Sproule, executive secretary-treasurer of the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters.

“We are pleased to see the BPU’s ongoing commitment to the emerging offshore wind sector, which will create many quality jobs for skilled union workers in New Jersey,” he said. “Our union is prepared to supply our trained union carpenters, commercial divers, pile drivers and millwrights to build this new energy industry safely and professionally.

“The EAS Carpenters Union has already made significant investments to ensure New Jersey is the leading destination for offshore wind training through our expanded Hammonton Training Center and by launching the first union dive school in the country at our Sicklerville location.”

Other specific economic benefits include:

  • Establishment of New Jersey-based operations & maintenance facilities;
  • Marshaling of both projects at the New Jersey Wind Port;
  • Anchor orders from a tower manufacturing facility to be constructed at the New Jersey Wind Port;
  • $164 million in funding for EEW’s expansion (it will increase throughput capacity from 100 to 166 monopiles per year and increase the tonnage limits per monopile from 2,500 to 3,000 metric tons);
  • Funding and support for a variety of other educational, workforce development and innovation initiatives, including several with an environmental justice focus, through state-based educational and nonprofit organizations.

The awards also bring funding of more than $60 million for environmental and fisheries initiatives — just one of many reasons environmental groups supported the announcement.

Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey, put it this way.

“The last few weeks have been watershed moments for offshore wind off the Atlantic seaboard as offshore wind projects have gone online and started producing clean, renewable energy,” he said. “Today’s NJBPU award brings the reality of offshore wind off the Jersey Shore one step closer — and it will build a future where wind can power our state’s economy and help us to transition off fossil fuels.

“The wind off the Jersey Shore and especially in the New York Bight remains as strong as ever — it’s time to harness the wind to fight climate change. NJBPU has created the roadmap for New Jersey to be the national leader in offshore wind.”

Anjuli Ramos, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, agreed.

“With this award announcement, New Jersey has once again continued to establish itself as a national leader in offshore wind,” she said.

“The clean energy boom is inevitable, and it is critical that New Jersey regulators are taking proactive measures to expand our offshore wind industry. This third offshore wind solicitation of 3,742 MW will help our local businesses and communities benefit from the economic development and improvements in air and water quality associated with offshore wind energy.

“This is the future, and we can either fall behind or stay ahead. I’m happy we’ve chosen the latter.”