The Biden administration is preparing to auction 480,000 acres off the coasts of New Jersey and New York for offshore wind development, a major milestone for the clean energy goals of the White House and both Democrat-majority states, who say those efforts were deliberately slow walked during the Trump years.
According to a Jan. 12 announcement, the federal Interior Department will begin accepting bids on Feb. 23 for six separate areas in the wind lease sale of the New York Bight, a shallow water stretch of ocean off the coasts of New York and New Jersey. Federal officials expect that once these projects are completed they could generate upwards of 7 gigawatts of offshore wind energy, capable of powering nearly 2 million homes.
Gov. Phil Murphy, who begins his second term next week, set a similar goal early in his administration to build out a 7.5 gigawatt offshore wind capacity by 2035 (16 gigawatts when combined with New York’s goals), and for the Garden State to be entirely reliant on cle,an energy by the middle of the century.
“Offshore wind holds a tremendous promise for our future, obviously in terms of climate change, but also economic growth, strengthening our workforce … as well as job creation,” Murphy said during a Wednesday morning press call with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler.
“It’s our chance to show that fighting climate change and creating good-paying unions jobs aren’t at odds with each other. In fact, they go hand in hand,” he said.
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. New Jersey state officials then approved a second offshore wind project called Ocean Wind 2, which will be developed jointly between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables—making it the nation’s largest offshore wind farm at 2,657 megawatts.
Several of these projects will be just off the coast of Atlantic City, while others will be further out to sea, or closer to the Long Island or Delaware Coasts.
That’s a whole of economy and whole of government approach, to … incentivize them to plant their flags in our two states. I think this is going to be a real turning of the page in terms of center of gravity for the wind industry.
— Gov. Phil Murphy
The White House’s goals call for a domestic 30-gigawatt capacity by 2030, and according to Haaland on Wednesday, the nation is essentially “at an inflection point for domestic offshore wind energy development.”
“[O]ffshore wind opportunities like the New York Bight present a once-in-a-generation opportunity to fight climate change and create good-paying, union jobs in the United States,” she said.
The six bidders will be bound by a number of stringent conditions while developing the offshore wind projects, the Biden Interior Department said.
They’ll need to hire union workers; domestically source major components such as the blades, turbines and foundations; follow “environmental justice and economic improvement goals;” and hold engagement forums with any groups that could be affected by the offshore wind developments.
A number of such goals are already underway at the state level.
The state is in the process of developing the 200-acre New Jersey Wind Port, from which wind turbine components would be manufactured and assembled to be shipped to the rest of the country. Further 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. Murphy said the site would make New Jersey a “global leader in component” manufacturing.
“That’s a whole of economy and whole of government approach, to … incentivize them to plant their flags in our two states,” Murphy said. “I think this is going to be a real turning of the page in terms of center of gravity for the wind industry.”
The domestic sourcing of various components and raw materials for the offshore wind projects, as well as “investments in the supply chain,” should over time alleviate the pains of this past year’s shipping delays, suggested Bureau of Ocean Management Director Amanda Lefton.
And that’s being accomplished through state and federal incentives, she continued. But the proposals have faced opposition.
One group, called Project Our Coast New Jersey, cautioned that the “fast track development” of these offshore wind developments could harm the state’s Jersey Shore tourism and pristine view, as well as “fisheries, wildlife and coastal communities.”
“We take it very seriously,” Murphy said of the Jersey Shore region’s sentiments. “We think the concerns are manageable.”
Haaland maintained that through listening to such groups, the federal government shaved off 72% of the more than 1.7 million acres they were considering for offshore wind development.