The nation’s top labor official on Sept. 9 touted New Jersey’s offshore wind efforts as a “national model” across the United States, as President Joe Biden pursues a $1.9 trillion climate and infrastructure package.
“New Jersey is showing a way forward by this project right here, showing us how to do it in the country,” U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh, a Boston native, said at a Thursday morning event in Alloway Township.
There, top state and business leaders, and labor officials, broke ground on the New Jersey Wind Port, a 200-acre facility from which the state would ship out wind turbine components to the rest of the nation.
“This project is a model … we never had as a nation,” Walsh said. “Great energy projects go down in history for putting our nation on a better path, think about [the] Hoover Dam or the Tennessee Valley Authority.”
Once completed in 2023, the site would employ up to 1,500 people and generate $500 million in economic activity, according to Gov. Phil Murphy’s office.
The current state budget includes $200 million for the port, but according to Assembly Appropriations Chair Jon Burzichelli, D-3rd District, the state or other parties involved would likely have to borrow to come up with more funds.
A project labor agreement between construction firm AECOM Tishman and United Building Trades Council of Southern New Jersey AFL-CIO means the plant and its construction would include a sizable amount of union labor.
“This location will provide essential staging, assembly and manufacturing … to offshore wind projects up and down the East Coast,” Murphy said.
Up north, where the Delaware Bay turns into the Delaware River, is the proposed $250 million manufacturing facility for the wind turbines, based in Camden County along the Delaware River.
They’re all part of a 7.5-gigawatt offshore wind capacity that Murphy and state leaders have eyed for putting in place by 2035, which proponents say can power 3.2 million homes and is far cheaper and cleaner than fossil fuels.
There are two wind farms in the works that will total nearly 3,800 megawatts of capacity. Ørsted North America has full rights to develop the first project, called Ocean Wind, which will have 1,100 megawatts of capacity once completed.
Then in June, state regulators approved Ørsted’s application for the 1,148-megawatt “Ocean Wind 2” project and the 1509-megawatt Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables, making it the nation’s largest offshore wind farm.
Biden meanwhile is aiming to have a 30-gigawatt offshore wind capacity by 2030. The day before his visit to Somerset County this week, to tour the effects of Hurricane Ida, the president stressed that much of the damage brought about by the storm to the area “we’re going to be able to fix permanently with the build that we have in for infrastructure.”
“This is an opportunity,” Biden said in Hillsborough. “The country has finally acknowledged the fact that global warming is real, and it’s moving at an incredible pace, we’ve got to do something about it.”
“You can’t go back and restore to what it was before,” the president continued. “Because another tornado, another 10 inches of rain is going to produce the same kind of results.”