New Jersey officials have repeatedly said the growth of the offshore wind industry is about more than just clean energy — it’s about building a powerful new sector in the economy in the state and the country.
That was never more evident than Wednesday.
The state Board of Public Utilities not only awarded the largest offshore wind project in U.S. history as part of its third solicitation — a 2,400-megawatt contract — it awarded it to Leading Light Wind, which is a partnership between two American companies: lead developer Invenergy and co-developer energyRe.
While Invenergy is based in Chicago and energyRe is based in Houston, both obviously will have large presences in the state.
Leading Light Wind officials said the company is eager to bring to New Jersey a proven track record and commitment to responsible, clean energy development to help the state realize a thriving offshore wind industry and supply chain.
Wes Jacobs, senior project director, offshore wind development, for Invenergy, tried to put the award in perspective — knowing that it comes just months after Ørsted pulled out of the state.
“We thank the Board of Public Utilities and applaud their leadership in staying the course toward New Jersey’s energy transition goals and commend the state for recognizing the importance of prioritizing American offshore wind know-how to lead the clean energy transition,” he said.
“Invenergy, Leading Light Wind’s lead developer, is committed to cultivating American innovation and is optimistic that today’s decision will unlock future opportunities for the next wave of American companies in this important domestic industry.
“This is an immensely exciting beginning to a long-term partnership between Leading Light Wind and New Jersey. Our team is poised and ready to deliver an environmentally responsible project that advances a healthier, more sustainable future for all.”
The project, located over 40 miles off the coast, is scheduled to begin construction in 2028, with operations in the full lease area estimated to begin in 2032. Once completed, Leading Light Wind officials said, it will supply New Jersey with 2,400 MW of clean energy — enough to power more than 1 million homes. The project also is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 4.1 million tons each year over the full life of the project.
Leading Light Wind officials said the project will bring major economic investment to New Jersey, creating an estimated 7,500 jobs and $3.7 billion in anticipated economic development benefits for the state. These benefits include localizing a wind turbine generator tower manufacturing facility in New Jersey 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.
In addition, Leading Light Wind has allocated up to $150 million for a comprehensive community benefits program. This program features 25 initial partnerships and opportunities that aim to empower local communities, promote youth education and workforce inclusivity, accelerate the growth of the domestic offshore wind supply chain, and pioneer collaborative environmental research in partnership with academic institutions, other ocean users and more. Key community benefit program initiatives include:
- The Energy Equity Credit: This innovative program will reduce the energy burden for over 200,000 low-income households in New Jersey by reducing their monthly electricity bill increase by 50% to support an equitable transition;
- The Waves to Wind program: A catalytic training program designed to position existing Small, Minority-, Woman- and Veteran-owned Business Enterprises for success in the offshore wind industry;
- The Fisheries Accelerator Fund: This fund will provide financial assistance to support emerging technology and initiatives aimed at improving the efficiency, sustainability or economic vitality of the fishing industry.
The project has also established a Memorandum of Understanding with New Jersey labor unions that prioritizes union construction for the project and supports lifelong career opportunities in the offshore wind sector. The MOU 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 will activate strategic partnerships with several educational, career, and workforce institutions across the Garden State.
Ryan Brown, chief operating officer of energyRe, said he feels the project will meet the economic hopes the state has for the sector.
“Leading Light Wind will chart a clean energy future for New Jersey and lay the foundation for a thriving domestic offshore wind industry,” he said. “Working hand in hand with our partners, we are ready to deliver state-of-the-art clean energy infrastructure, local resiliency, and robust economic development for the Garden State. energyRe is proud to lead American innovation in offshore wind and accelerate a reliable U.S. energy transition that serves current and future generations.”