Offshore wind advocates praise feds’ approval of Atlantic Shores project

The federal government’s approval of the proposed Atlantic Shores South offshore wind farm in New Jersey on Tuesday — giving a major boost to a project that would be the state’s first — drew a positive response from the industry.

To be clear, the project still requires additional federal approvals of its construction and operations plans, but those approvals are expected.

The Atlantic Shores South wind project consists of two wind energy facilities — Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1 and 2 — and associated export cables, which are expected to generate up to 2,800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power close to 1 million homes with clean renewable energy.

More than that, it is a boost for an industry that so many support.

Paulina O’Connor, the executive director of the New Jersey Offshore Wind Alliance, celebrated what she called a critical milestone.

“As the most mature project positioned to serve New Jersey, the Atlantic Shores South project is in many ways the vanguard of New Jersey’s offshore wind industry and all the benefits our industry will bring to the state,” she said. “The development of offshore wind projects not only strengthens our energy independence and reduces carbon emissions, it also creates high-quality jobs and fosters economic growth.”

The project is approximately 8.7 miles off the Jersey Shore at its closest point.

To provide energy to New Jersey, Atlantic Shores South proposed up to 200 total wind turbine generators and up to 10 offshore substations with subsea transmission cables potentially making landfall in Atlantic City and Sea Girt. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has approved construction of up to 195 wind turbine generators.

The New Jersey Wind Works Coalition said the project will have great benefit for the state and the country, according to Ed Potosnak, the executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters.

“This is an important step in realizing President (Joe) Biden’s and Gov. (Phil) Murphy’s vision of a clean energy economy,” he said. “The Atlantic Shores project will create union jobs while fighting climate change and ensuring that New Jersey residents can breathe cleaner air. And it shows that this project meets the highest safety and environmental standards. We look forward to state and federal regulators’ continued work to move responsibly developed offshore wind forward.”

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

“The Biden administration’s approval of the Atlantic Shores South project is good for our climate, our public health, our workers and our wallets,” she said. “We are proud to see New Jersey move towards renewable energy and offshore wind development, and away from dirty fossil fuels.

“The momentum for offshore wind in New Jersey is only growing as we continue to lead the region in our transition to a cleaner, greener future for our communities.”

The approval obviously was of particular importance in New Jersey and to Murphy, who has pushed offshore wind as a key part of his clean energy policies and goals. It also may show that the cancellation of a similar project by Ørsted last fall was a matter of economics rather than energy policy.

Though he will long be gone from office, Murphy has set ambitious renewable energy goals for the state moving forward, aiming for New Jersey to get 100% of its power from renewable sources by 2035 and to create at least 11,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2040.