With Jersey City facing an increased need for energy, and the state committed to shifting its power sources to renewable energy, the opening of a new office in Jersey City by German power giant EnBW would seem to come just in time.
In the classic film “Back to the Future,” fictional character Dr. Emmett Brown claims the only way to get 1.2 gigawatts of electricity is from a bolt of lightning. A gigawatt is a unit of power equal to one billion watts, enough energy for about 700,000 residences.
For New York, which has committed to developing alternative power sources to provide 9 gigawatts, and for New Jersey at 3.5 gigawatts, officials from EnBW North America may have an answer that does not require a lightning strike.
EnBW constructed Germany’s first offshore wind project. Its subsidiary is entering the U.S. offshore market, opening an office in Jersey City and planning an office in Boston.
The German utility is seen as the leading European offshore wind developer with projects already operating in Europe and additional projects in development.
At the opening of the EnBW’s first office in the United States, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said this may well be the answer to some of the city’s pressing need to supply power.
Jersey City needs more energy
Currently, the city does not have access to enough power to sustain its rate of growth. While Jersey City is negotiating with PSE&G to bring in two new power stations, a potential wind farm located in the New Jersey area could help meet the city’s needs.
The ribbon cutting on the new office included NJ Economic Development Authority Senior VP for Economic Transformation Brian Sabina, EnBW Managing Director Bill White and EnBW AG Head of Offshore Wind Portfolio Development Holger Grubel.
The audience who attended the event in Newport Tower included environmental experts, members of organized labor, environmentalists, consultants, cable manufacturers, political figures, and even vessel company owners.
Grubel said EnBW North America intends to explore offshore wind opportunities in the Northeast, while its company Castle Wind is proposing the first floating wind project in the U.S. off the coast of California.
Bill White, managing director of EnBW North America, called the opening of the Jersey City office “an exciting moment.”
“I’ve been pursuing this dream of offshore wind for the last ten years,” White said.
He said he worked in Massachusetts to build a market there, and according to Gruber has become know as “Mr. Off-Shore Wind.”
“It has not been an easy road,” White said. “But we are on the precipice of an energy transformation of developing this resource right off the mayor’s (Fulop) coast, clean renewable energy. We will bring that power to shore to basically meet the goals the states of New York and New Jersey have set.”
He said these goals have made the New York region “the most significant wind market in the world.”
“Everyone here is involved in energy transformation and we’re already to do something great,” White said. “This is going to be a transformative moment for this region.”
White said this is about collaboration
“We are interested in collaboration; we are interested in being part of this community,” he said. “We are interested in helping these municipalities and these states meet these incredibly aggressive goals.”
He said this will provide economic development opportunities and will involve working with the environmentalist such as marine life experts and fisheries.
Grubel said opening an office in Jersey City came out of two meetings, one in Trenton, and then later, a meeting with Gov. Phil Murphy in Hamburg, Germany.
“This is the place to be,” he said. “This is where off-shore wind industry will take off. We’re quite confident this is the place to be, and we’re not just here to start, but we’re here to stay.”
The utility has operated in Germany for about 100 years, Guber said. “It is only recently that we have ventured beyond the German border, trying to do something new.”
But he emphasized that the company wants to bring to wind industry that same dedication that it has to its other power sources, which include fossil fuel and nuclear. The company, he said, is seeking to make the transition to renewable energy.
“We already have about 3 gigawatts of renewable energy in the making,” he said. “We do plan to shift our entire portfolio from nuclear and fossil to a renewable business. We started that journey in 2012 and we are really making good progress. It is profitable and we are a good running company.”
Sabina, representing the governor’s office, called this “the birth of a new industry” in New Jersey.
‘The Houston of off-shore wind power’
Gov. Murphy, he said, has been leading a movement in the region for the development of offshore wind opportunities. The state has already received commitments from utilities in the area for the purchase of power from the offshore wind sites when these come online.
He said New Jersey is set to become “The Houston of off-shore wind.”
“That is not just putting projects in the water, there will be a hub for project development, technical services, financial services for research and development, and we fully believe New Jersey will be that region in the U.S.”
The state already has a number of initiatives such as tax credits for offshore wind generation that can help further these developments.
Fulop said he was excited about the company in Jersey City. While the city faces a number of issues such as dealing with crime and providing affordable housing, energy is also an issue.
“Do we have enough?” he said. “If we look at this today, the answer is no.”
For updates on this and other stories check hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Al Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com