The state’s first offshore wind project, Ocean Wind 1, which will be located about 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, marked a major milestone in the permitting process April 28.
The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued a federal consistency determination, concluding that plans for Ocean Wind 1 are consistent with the enforceable policies of the Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP), which establishes the rules around use, development and protection of the state’s coastal resources.
As NJBIZ has extensively reported, the project aims to provide clean energy to some 500,000 New Jersey homes while delivering thousands of jobs and helping to solidify the state’s role as a leader in this burgeoning sector.
Additionally, the NJDEP Division of Land Resource Protection issued four permits—the first issued for the construction and operations of Ocean Wind 1.
The authorizations, which relate to work and activities in tidal water, coastal areas, and wetlands and freshwater wetlands, include the Waterfront Development Permit, Coastal Areas Facility Review Act Permit, Coastal Wetlands Permit and Freshwater Wetlands Permit.
“Today’s actions by NJDEP represent significant milestones and critical steps that are needed to advance the state’s first offshore wind project and bring clean, reliable energy and the associated economic benefits to the region,” said Maddy Urbish, Ørsted’s head of government affairs and market strategy, New Jersey, in a press release.
“The issuance of these permits affirms that the proposed plans for Ocean Wind 1 sufficiently avoid and minimize impacts toe New Jersey’s natural resources,” said Katharine Perry, permit manager for Ocean Wind 1.
PSEG announced Jan. 18 it agreed to sell its 25% equity stake in the Ocean Wind 1 offshore wind project to Ørsted. Click here to read the full story.
Offshore wind has recently been at the center of controversy amid a slew of whale and dolphin deaths that have ignited criticism from different groups and lawmakers, who are calling for a pause in activity until more is learned.
In fact, on Friday, Senate Republicans in Trenton announced they will hold a hearing May 3 to receive testimony about the surge in marine deaths and potential links to offshore wind. Last week, the state announced an additional $2 million in funding to further study “the safe and ecologically responsible development of offshore wind.”
In response to the criticism and calls for a moratorium, Gov. Phil Murphy has pointed to federal agencies, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), who have not yet found a correlation between offshore wind activity and this surge in marine deaths.
“The Feds have taken the lead on this – NOAA, BOEM. We take this very seriously. So, I don’t want folks to think that this is something that we’re ignoring because we’re not,” said Murphy on his recent News 12 News call-in show, “Ask Governor Murphy.” “But there’s no evidence that would suggest that there’s correlation. If we had evidence, we would take some sort of action, I promise you.”
While no major construction is underway yet, the work going on so far includes mapping the ocean floor using sonar technology. Those calling for the pause point to this work as a potential link, saying that the sonar can disorient marine life.
But, as of now, things continue to move forward.
Ocean Wind 1 still needs additional federal, state and local approvals, as well as approval from BOEM, before construction can begin. Officials are hopeful the project will be completed by the end of 2024.