New Jersey green-lights offshore wind solicitation

In: Windfarms
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) has voted unanimously to open the application window for the State’s second solicitation of offshore wind capacity. This second solicitation seeks to award between 1,200 MW and 2,400 MW of offshore wind energy, potentially tripling the State’s committed capacity from 1,100 MW to 3,500 MW.

In addition to the solicitation, NJBPU approved the final New Jersey Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, the State’s roadmap for achieving 7,500 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035. The plan was developed by Ramboll US Corporation through a public stakeholder process. It presents recommendations on establishing an offshore wind industry that achieves net economic benefits and gives New Jersey residents the best overall value, while also protecting the environment and commercial and recreational fishing interests, and mitigating the impacts of climate change.

While developing the State’s offshore wind resources, NJBPU will continue to coordinate with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) to identify and prioritise the research and monitoring needs of this nascent industry. Ongoing habitat surveys as well as fish and wildlife studies will provide critical data on New Jersey’s diverse and ecologically valuable natural resources, and how new offshore industries can support them.

In opening the second solicitation, NJBPU put forth its Second Solicitation Guidance Document, which provides the solicitation’s mechanics and timeline, project application requirements, and evaluation criteria. The application window opens on September 10, 2020 and closes on December 10, 2020. The Board anticipates awarding the resulting offshore wind projects in June 2021.

In further news, NJBPU alongside NJEDA approved two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) that will make nearly $6 million available to support offshore wind and other clean energy projects in the State. Under the agreements, New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program (NJCEP), which is administered by NJBPU, will provide $4.5 million to support NJEDA-led workforce development projects aimed at preparing more New Jersey workers for jobs in offshore wind, and $1.25 million to support early-stage, New Jersey-based cleantech companies.

The first MOU provides $4.5 million to support offshore wind workforce development projects. Examples of these programs include: a competition to develop the first Global Wind Organization (GWO) safety training program in the Mid-Atlantic region; wind turbine technician training programs; a plan to establish pathways for New Jersey students and workers to enter the offshore wind industry; and seminars about offshore wind job creation for labor unions, high schools, vocational technical schools, colleges, and universities so that students, energy workers, and job seekers can train to work in the industry.

In the second MOU, NJBPU will provide $1.25 million to fund programs supporting innovative, early-stage cleantech companies in New Jersey. The NJEDA plans to use this funding in partnership with the New Jersey Commission on Science Innovation and Technology (NJCSIT) to develop a seed grant program that will aid local cleantech businesses during critical proof of concept and prototyping stages. The NJEDA also intends to execute a research and development asset mapping and voucher initiative to increase equitable access to and utilization of the State’s existing cleantech innovation programs and initiatives.

The funding will be utilised immediately, with the aim of establishing operational programs by mid-2021.

In 2019 the NJBPU made an award from its first offshore wind solicitation to Ørsted’s 1,100 MW
Ocean Wind project, the largest single-project award in the country. The project, which will be built 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City and is expected to commence operations in 2024, will generate an estimated $1.17 billion in economic benefits for New Jersey and create 15,000 jobs over the 20-year life of the project. NJBPU will vote in 2022 to open a third solicitation for offshore wind of at least 1,200 MW. Solicitations will open every two years until 2028.

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