The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities voted unanimously on Monday to move forward with its expansive offshore wind development plans, opening an application window for 1,100 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind capacity, the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind to date in the United States.
According to a statement released on Monday, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) considered the solicitation the first step towards the State’s goal of installing 3,500 MW worth of offshore wind by 2030 — a target which was announced in April at the annual International Offshore Wind Partnering Forum by New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy.
“As a coastal state, offshore wind is a matter of common sense,” Governor Murphy told the Forum. “It’s a complete no-brainer.”
“New Jersey has joined the fight against global climate change. For us, this is more than just energy. It’s also about the economy. It can lead this state to long-term economic stability.”
Monday’s vote came only days after Governor Murphy called on the Board to open two additional 1,200 MW offshore wind solicitations in 2020 and 2022, and represents a significant leap in New Jersey’s goal of becoming a 100% clean energy state by 2050.
“In the span of just nine months, New Jersey has vaulted to the front of the pack in establishing this cutting-edge industry,” said Governor Murphy on Monday. “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind. Thanks to the Board, today we took another enormous step toward realizing that goal with the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind in the country.”
New Jersey’s offshore wind energy target was announced in April but was signed into law in May in a bill that codified Governor Murphy’s target, as well as reinstating an expired program to provide tax credits for offshore wind manufacturing activities.
“Governor Murphy came into office with a bold vision for offshore wind in New Jersey and within nine months of his inauguration, the state’s Board of Public Utilities has begun accepting applications for what could be the biggest offshore wind farm in the US,” added Nancy Sopko, Director, Offshore Wind, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). “This is the kind of action that spurs investment and job creation at the scale needed to launch this new American energy industry.”
The signing came at the same time that East Coast neighbors Massachusetts and Rhode Island made their own offshore wind energy commitments that, altogether, took the United States offshore wind development pipeline up to at least 5 gigawatts (GW).
“Today’s action marks an historic step in the implementation of Governor Murphy’s clean energy agenda,” said Joseph L. Fiordaliso, President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. “Offshore wind energy will help drive down our dependence on fossil fuels and reduce greenhouse gases that cause climate change while creating jobs and providing a boost to the economy.”
“The opening of the 1,100 MW window, coupled with the Governor’s announcement for the deployment schedule for the full 3,500 MW solicitation, provides unparalleled certainty and incentive for developers and manufacturers to anchor a supply chain right here in New Jersey that can serve the entire eastern seaboard.”
This clear political commitment to offshore wind — including a desire to put into place a future 2.4 GW worth of solicitation — will serve the country’s offshore wind industry well.
“The clarify afforded by the BPU’s schedule for the 1.1GW solicitation and Governor Murphy’s proposed timeframe for the remaining 2.4 GW is tremendously helpful for supply chain investment decision-making,” confirmed Anthony Logan, a research analyst with Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables focusing on the North American wind power sector. “That said, New Jersey was already in a good position to attract supply chain investment based on the proposed scale of their offshore wind program and their geographical location in the center of several states planning offshore development. As concrete and large-scale offshore programs move south down the coast and bring a supply chain and EPC infrastructure with them, it makes it easier for states like Virginia and Delaware to flesh out their plans, and adds some urgency.”
What is even more important, however, is the impact that New Jersey’s commitment will have on its neighboring states along the east coast which are similarly looking to build offshore wind — particularly, as Logan explains, “if they want to attract a supply chain, as each of them claim to.”
“At some point, and that point comes sooner with every announcement like New Jersey’s, the ship will have sailed and late-mover states will either be shut out of the supply chain or – worst case for the sector – will continue to force myopic policies that insist on inefficient in-state supply chain additions that cannibalize opportunity from their neighbors,” Logan continued. “A supplier moving in the next couple of years into, say, New Jersey, would really like to know that they’ll have an opportunity to sell their products in neighboring New York or Maryland. But, this is what happens when states are the policy drivers, without guidance from the federal government. Interstate collaboration is happening, but it’s never as easy as you wish it was.”