CLIMATEWIRE | The Biden administration approved Wednesday a wind company’s controversial plan to raise nearly 100 turbines off the coast of Atlantic City, N.J.
The project, Ocean Wind 1, is the third offshore wind farm approved since President Joe Biden took office. Its progress helps close the gap on the White House’s goal of advancing 16 wind farms by 2025 to support a broader climate agenda.
“The Biden-Harris administration has worked to jump-start the offshore wind industry across the country — and today’s approval for the Ocean Wind 1 project is another milestone in our efforts to create good-paying union jobs while combating climate change and powering our nation,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in a statement.
Developed by the Danish energy company Ørsted A/S, Ocean Wind 1 is planned roughly 15 miles from the New Jersey shore, where it would produce enough electricity to power 380,000 homes in the Garden State.
Offshore wind is just taking off in the United States, galvanized by state and federal support. The first two large projects approved during the Biden administration are currently under construction off the coast of New England.
Elizabeth Klein, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management — the federal agency that oversees offshore wind leasing and construction — called the project “another significant step forward for the offshore wind industry in the United States.”
“The project’s approval demonstrates the federal government’s commitment to developing clean energy and fighting climate change and is a testament to the state of New Jersey’s leadership,” she said in a statement.
The project is the first proposed off the coast of New Jersey to reach federal approval and would help advance the state’s goal to reach 11 gigawatts of offshore wind electricity by 2040.
During development, and an estimated three-year construction cycle, the project could create roughly 3,000 jobs, according to the Interior Department.
Liz Burdock, CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, said Ocean Wind 1 highlights the economic growth created by the offshore industry.
“Momentum is building in the U.S. offshore wind industry with two wind farms in the water and the next projects receiving approval to begin construction,” she said in a statement. “The U.S. supply chain is coming to life as factory workers in Paulsboro, New Jersey, fabricators in Baltimore, Maryland, and construction workers at New Jersey’s wind port are manufacturing Ocean Wind 1’s turbine components and ports.”
Despite Ocean Wind 1’s progress, the project has also faced headwinds.
Last week, the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill granting the project the full economic benefits of federal tax incentives, an effort to counter inflationary costs that have made offshore wind projects more expensive to build over the last 18 months.
The project approval is also likely to inspire criticism in its home state.
New Jersey is at the center of a push from some Republican lawmakers, beach homeowners and conservative policy groups opposing offshore wind for a variety of reasons, including potential impacts to marine life.
Ocean Wind 1 has faced disapproval from coastal communities like Cape May County, N.J., where local leaders are fighting state approvals and say the wind project could negatively affect tourism.
Last month, organizers against offshore wind filed a lawsuit against the state’s approval of the project.
This story first appeared in E&E News PM.
Reprinted from E&E News with permission from POLITICO, LLC. Copyright 2023. E&E News provides essential news for energy and environment professionals.