Eleven companies have submitted wind energy proposals for 413 square miles of ocean off southern New Jersey, an important step for federal authorities to proceed toward leasing block of the ocean floor for power turbines.
The submissions to the U.S. Department of Interior show a “robust response” from wind energy entrepreneurs, and “solidifies New Jersey’s role as a national leader in the development of green energy that will provide jobs, economic growth and cleaner air while reducing carbon dioxide emissions,” state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin said today in announcing the results.
The projects range in potential power capacity from 350 megawatts to 3,000 megawatts, and overall the sum of the plans represents some 12,500 megawatts of proposed generating capacity, the DEP says. But the developers are competing to lease some of the same ocean floor from the government, so the total generating capacity ulitmately will be less than that figure, agency officials noted.
The leasing area begins about seven miles east of Barnegat Light south to waters off Avalon, and extends to 23 miles offshore. It’s a swath of ocean identified as having the best potential for wind energy, considering average wind speeds, ocean depth over the relatively shallow continental shelf, and range to onshore power grids and support facilities.
The applications came in response to a federal notice from Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, known as a “call for information and nominations.” It’s a step in the process so the government can get an idea of how many developers want to lease blocks on the continental shelf and how many turbines they would build.
DEP officials said the applicants are offshore MW LLC; Neptune Wind LLC; Garden State Offshore Wind Energy I LLC; Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy LLC; TCI Renewables Inc.; Mainstream Renewable Power; enXco Development Corp.; US Wind Inc.; New Jersey Offshore Wind LLC; Iberdrola Rewewables Inc.; and Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey LLC.
Fishermen’s Energy is already farther along than its rivals here, and even ahead of the Cape Wind project off Massachusetts, to potentially start up the first offshore wind power array off the East Coast. That’s a six-turbine demonstration project to be built just inside state waters, 2.9 miles off the beach at Atlantic City. Project backers just obtained an Army Corps of Engineers permit in April.
DEP officials touted news of the 11 submissions as evidence how “the creation of jobs tied to green energy and the development of port facilities to facilitate this development are priorities of the administration.”
Gov. Chris Christie’s environmental critics were quick to spin it the other way, after complaining earlier this week that the administration’s new energy master plan lowered goals for renewable energy from 30 percent of New Jersey’s energy mix to 22.5 percent.
The “renewable portfolio standard of the plan calls for 1,800 megawatts of offshore wind generated energy, but the developers’ response to the federal notice shows there is potential for much more,” said Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club: “These proposals show that reaching New Jersey’s (previous) goal of 30 percent is not only doable, but we could easily surpass it.”
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