Gov. Phil Murphy has been clear about his goal to bring 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power – enough electricity for 3.2 million homes – to the Garden State over the next 15 years.
Now, with the approval of a new order on Wednesday, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has begun the process of determining exactly how to transfer electricity from turbines in the Atlantic Ocean to power lines on land.
The new order requests that PJM Interconnection, LLC – the regional power grid which serves electricity to New Jersey and a dozen other states – include Murphy’s target in the grid’s offshore wind transmission planning. New Jersey plans to do this through a process called a State Agreement Approach, in which PJM will solicit proposals for transmission systems and the state will choose its preferred option.
New Jersey is the first state to use the State Agreement Approach.
“Our actions today reflect New Jersey’s leadership in innovative clean energy development, as well as our commitment to expanding renewable energy quickly and responsibly to combat climate change,” BPU President Joseph Fiordaliso said.
PJM will solicit industry proposals for bringing offshore wind power to land. Cost, environmental impacts and construction timeframe will all be considered for transmission proposals.
“The State Agreement Approach was written broadly to accommodate the breadth and diversity of policies that different states might pursue,” Manu Asthana, President and CEO of PJM, said in a statement. “It is an existing tool that states can use to leverage PJM’s regional transmission planning expertise. In this case, we are pleased to be able to help New Jersey advance its offshore wind objectives.”
PJM will examine options for injecting offshore wind power into the grid at substations in four towns: Egg Harbor Township, Howell, Freehold and South Brunswick. PJM will also study options to gather electricity generated by turbines miles into the ocean at central platforms offshore before delivering it to land, and the potential for an undersea “backbone” transmission which could connect multiple wind farms.
New Jersey has not yet committed any money to developing an offshore wind transmission system. Such a decision would be made once PJM completes its solicitation process. That process is set to begin next year.
Fiordaliso stressed that BPU will have final say when it comes time to make decisions on how to move forward.
“[PJM] will provide for us various options, so that we can prudently go forth and minimize the cost and so-on on the ratepayer,” Fiordaliso said. “We want to do what is best for the ratepayer’s pocketbook.”
Anbaric Development Partners, a Boston-based developer of electric transmission projects, applauded the BPU for Wednesday’s order.
“As the principal industry advocate for a planned, independent transmission system that protects ratepayers and grows the industry, Anbaric is thrilled to see the BPU take this enormous step forward,” Janice Fuller, Anbaric’s mid-Atlantic president, said in a statement.
Anbaric is currently pushing its Boardwalk Power Link project, which would connect electricity generated offshore to the grid at a substation in South Brunswick.
Jeff Tittel, the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, described the BPU’s action a “win-win for wind.”
“This will move offshore wind forward, which will help get to a green economy and create thousands of jobs,” Tittel said. “It will also help reduce greenhouse gases and stop new fossil fuel power plants.”
New Jersey’s offshore wind goals are part of a larger effort to have the state meet all of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2050, as laid out by the state’s energy master plan.
Ocean Wind, a 1,100-megawatt wind farm proposed 15 miles from Atlantic City, is scheduled to go online in 2024. New Jersey began accepting proposals for the next round of offshore wind projects earlier this year.
The BPU previously approved the New Jersey Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, a 510-page document meant to serve as a roadmap for the industry’s growth in the Garden State.
Earlier this year, state officials announced plans to build a port in Salem County dedicated to supporting offshore wind. That project – dubbed the New Jersey Wind Port – is expected to create 1,500 permanent jobs and generate $500 million in annual economic activity, according to the Murphy administration.
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