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Offshore wind project picks up steam, some voice concern  

Credit:  Offshore Wind Project Picks Up Steam, Some Voice Concern | By Chris Rotolo | Two River Times | May 19, 2022 | tworivertimes.com ~~

An April agreement between the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and Orsted Offshore North America has cleared a path for Ocean Wind 1, the Garden State’s inaugural offshore wind development, a boon to Gov. Phil Murphy’s vision of achieving 100 percent clean energy for the state by 2050.

However, local environmental leaders are questioning the methodology of this installation, and others to come, without first establishing a precedent that mitigates the impact on marine life, adjacent river habitats and maritime industries.

“What are the consequences? We don’t really know because the scale of the projects that are moving forward off our coast have never been done anywhere else. There’s a sort of recklessness toward the ocean in the way this all proceeding,” Clean Ocean Action executive director Cindy Zipf told The Two River Times. “I just can’t see anything of this size ever having been done on land this way. There would have been respect, caution and evaluation.”

In July 2020, Orsted closed on a lease of 108 acres of open ocean situated approximately 13.8 miles off the coast of Atlantic City for its Ocean Wind 1 project, a farm featuring 99 wind turbines with the ability to generate enough sustainable energy to power 500 homes. Nearly a year later the company submitted another proposal for Ocean Wind 2, an adjacent wind farm that is advertised to power an even greater number of residences.

The Orsted installations are part of nine large-scale wind farm projects in the works following a Feb. 23 auction conducted by the U.S. Department of the Interior, in which six companies issued bids totaling $4.37 billion for federal government leasing contracts of more than 488,000 acres of New Jersey’s coastal waters.

These leases are in addition to another bid awarded Feb. 17 to the Empire Wind Project, a joint-venture between Equinor and British Petroleum, for an 80,000 acre pizza slice-shaped marine parcel that will power New York homes. The tip of the “pizza slice” is located less than 20 miles from the northern tip of Sandy Hook Gateway National Recreation Area in Middletown.

“We’re talking about project after project. This is not just a few years of development for a one-off development. It’s 10 years of projects, followed by another 10 years of projects, with the possibility of overlapping projects. It’s going to get very noisy out there,” Zipf said.

Zipf said the noise pollution of a large-scale industrialization project such as the Ocean Wind 1 will certainly impact the migration and nursing patterns of various species of whales, dolphins, fish and turtles, but the effects will not be limited to marine life, a sentiment shared by NY/NJ Baykeeper CEO Greg Remaud.

Remaud described a scenario in which local commercial fishermen would accrue greater costs having to shoulder extended routes to avoid the installations, in addition to chasing a catch forced to relocate its regular habitat.

“Our focus is also on the infrastructure and transmission lines that will need to run from these offshore sites to the mainland. In Orsted’s case, we’re looking at transmission lines running up through the Raritan Bay near Keyport and South Amboy,” Remaud said. “There’s going to be trenching done in those waters. Habitats and lands are going to be disrupted. But we need to make sure that the trenching is mitigated; that the least amount of habitats and lands are disrupted. You need to set a precedent now so it’s in place for future projects.”

Rather than having crisscrossing transmission lines, Remaud said he hopes lawmakers will establish a single designated channel for cables to connect oceanic infrastructure to the mainland. He is also pressing the legislature to mandate companies like Orsted restore any marine and river habitats that are disturbed.

With so many variables and unknowns, Zipf is asking lawmakers to pump the breaks on these developments and instead move forward with a smaller-scale pilot project.

Zipf said a reasonably sized installation with 25 turbines and targeted investments in documentation would allow for proper data collection and the creation of future projections for larger installations.

“We need to know what the totality of the offshore and onshore industrialization will be so we can understand the consequences. And maybe if we understand the consequences, we might then reevaluate and find other sources of sustainable energy that would be less compromising to the ocean,” Zipf said. “I’d really like to know what the plan is, and I think the citizens of New Jersey deserve to know what the plan is before it happens.”

Source:  Offshore Wind Project Picks Up Steam, Some Voice Concern | By Chris Rotolo | Two River Times | May 19, 2022 | tworivertimes.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

The copyright of this article resides with the author or publisher indicated. As part of its noncommercial effort to present the environmental, social, scientific, and economic issues of large-scale wind power development to a global audience seeking such information, National Wind Watch endeavors to observe “fair use” as provided for in section 107 of U.S. Copyright Law and similar “fair dealing” provisions of the copyright laws of other nations. Send requests to excerpt, general inquiries, and comments via e-mail.

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