Doubling down on wind power

Gov. Murphy announces an executive order for greater offshore wind generation

Al Gore visited the Liberty Science Center to watch Gov. Phil Murphy sign an executive order doubling demands for offshore wind generation.
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Al Gore visited the Liberty Science Center to watch Gov. Phil Murphy sign an executive order doubling demands for offshore wind generation.

Gov. Phil Murphy joined First Lady Tammy Murphy and former Vice President Al Gore at Jersey City’s Liberty Science Center to sign Executive Order No. 92, raising New Jersey’s offshore wind solicitation goal from 3,500 megawatts by 2030 to 7,500 megawatts by 2035.

The new executive order directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, Department of Environmental Protection, and other state agencies to take all necessary actions to promote wind generation to meet the level of wattage as well as the deadline.

The officials at the signing spoke about the economic and environmental effects of climate change on the region.

“New Jersey is warming at a faster rate than almost any other state,” Tammy Murphy said. “The shorelines are vanishing, we have harmful algal blooms, rain comes in torrential downpours, and the summers are blazing hot. All of this will cost New Jersey a projected ten billion dollars yearly, and it will be a reality faced by our children as they become adults.”

Tammy Murphy also talked about her intent to push for climate change education in the Department of Education’s standards review, which occurs every five years.

“We need students who are prepared to collect data, analyze results, and make well-reasoned arguments based on the evidence,” she said. “We need good citizens invested in the welfare of our community.”

Increasing offshore wind electrical generation is a central component in the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ (BPU) Energy Master Plan, which was mandated in an executive order the governor signed in June. The 2019 EMP’s goal is to convert the state’s power grid to 50 percent renewables by 2030, and to create a power grid that relies 100 percent on clean energy by 2050.

Clean energy is defined by the EMP as carbon-neutral, meaning that any carbon released into earth’s atmosphere by generators supplying electricity to New Jersey must be captured in some form.

Earlier this year, the BPU issued a solicitation for 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind off the coast of Atlantic City. The bid went to Orsted, a German wind farm company. In Jersey City, German power company EnBW opened a new office in May, amid the city’s increased energy needs due to population growth.

Prior to the new executive order, the BPU proposed a timeline during which it would solicit 1,200 megawatts of offshore wind in 2020, and another 1,200 megawatts in 2022.

It won’t be easy breezy

While Gov. Murphy acknowledged that soliciting nearly double the offshore wind energy he initially intended with a five-year deadline extension will be neither easy nor inexpensive, he said that he was optimistic.

More than 700,000 acres of offshore property are tentatively available to the state for wind generation. Murphy’s administration, including members of the Economic Development Authority, are currently in discussions with more than 50 offshore wind generation providers.

“When we meet this goal, our offshore winds will generate enough electricity to power more than 3.2 million New Jersey homes,” Murphy said. “We will meet half of our electric power need. We will generate billions of dollars in investments in our state’s future, and in turn, generate thousands of union jobs. We are putting ourselves on a steeper curve, but I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t totally confident in our ability to crest this hill.”

Murphy said that the organization Environmental Entrepreneurs suggests that every dollar invested in offshore wind in New Jersey would provide nearly double the return on investment in overall economic output. He said that he envisions the Northeast region becoming a “nexus” of the burgeoning offshore wind industry, which is projected to form a supply chain worth billions of dollars.

“The New Jersey Wind Institute, new technical assistance programs, and the supply chain registry are critical parts of our coordinated effort to become a truly global leader in every aspect of offshore wind energy,” Murphy said.

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