Wednesday, March 30, 2016

When, if ever, will NJ capitalize on offshore wind leases?

** Updated at 6:10 p.m. to add NJ Spotlight story**

New Jersey is one of the northeast states along the Atlantic where the federal government, after detailed studies, has approved and designated locations for wind energy projects. Unlike Maryland and Rhode Island, however, the Garden State continues to drag its heels on developing regulations that would enable developers to move ahead.This has jeopardized 'first in' opportunities to develop supporting businesses like turbine and propeller manufacturers. 

These were some of the messages delivered yesterday at a forum on offshore wind energy held at Stockton University in Galloway Township, NJ.

Pat Johnson
of The Sand Paper reports:

New Jersey’s Offshore Wind Energy is in its infancy, but it is gaining momentum and needed more than ever today in the face of climate change and rising sea levels. These were the main points to take away from the Offshore Wind Energy Forum held Tuesday at Stockton University in Galloway Township.
The movers and shakers of the infant industry came from near and far. From Washington, D.C., came Walter Cruickshank, deputy director of the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management; from Massachusetts, Carolyn Heeps, representing RES Americas, one winner of the land lease auction held by BOEM with the right to develop wind farms off New Jersey’s coast; from Baltimore, Md., Paul Rich from US Wind Inc., the second company to win the land lease auction; and Paul Gallagher from Atlantic City, chief operating officer for Fishermen’s Energy, a company trying to develop a pilot project off A.C. Finally, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker sent a video statement of support and state Sen. Jim Whelan and Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo, both from the 2nd Legislative District, came in person.
Cruickshank gave an overview of BOEM: It holds sway over the land 3 miles from the shoreline and approximately 200 miles out to sea. It also is the department that leases land for oil and gas mining. Because of the need to reduce greenhouse gases, now, more than ever, the country needs offshore wind, he said. “The administration’s climate action plan calls for producing 20 gigawatts of wind energy by 2020.” BOEM has approved 11 offshore leases in the Atlantic, for New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. Plans for North and South Carolina are in the making, and Hawaii and California have also made inquiries.
“We are going to do our best to make opportunities available to companies willing to pursue this industry,” he said.


--NJ Spotlight

Carolyn Heeps said her British-based company, RES Americas, has plans to transfer its lease to Danish Oil and Natural Gas, or DONG, for its wind energy project. “DONG is the global leader in offshore wind,” said Heeps. Her company will work with DONG as a consultant that will be involved in the entire lifecycle of the project and will maintain management.
“The U.S. market is a great opportunity,” said Heeps. “Our target is 6 gigabytes by 2020.”
New Jersey in particular is attractive because of the strong wind resource and the shallow water plus the onshore grid connections in the state.
Although DONG manufactures turbines in Europe, Heeps said eventually it hopes to see manufacturing in the U.S. once the industry matures.
“It’s very early days. Our preliminary task is to get out and talk to the stakeholders so we can coexist with the other users of marine resources.”
Paul Rich, project developer for U.S. Wind Inc. and holder of the other large land lease off the N.J. coast, said his company has started an offshore wind farm project in Maryland. Maryland was its first choice because it has an OREC (Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit) system in place.
New Jersey has the law requiring OREC in its Offshore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, but the state’s Bureau of Public Utilities has yet to fashion the way it will be used as a commodity – much as solar credits are required of nonrenewable energy companies.
As of January 2015, U.S. Wind has invested $20 million in the Maryland project that is to be built offshore of Ocean City. It has also purchased a brownfield site in Baltimore where the company will manufacture equipment and vessels to service the wind turbines.
Maryland is also requiring U.S. Wind to keep its costs down by requiring the consumer’s cost not to exceed $1.90 a kilowatt.
U.S. Wind hopes to do the same for New Jersey.
Whelan said if New Jersey had had the political will to embrace wind energy, New Jersey would have been the first to have the investment from U.S. Wind. “That manufacturing site could have been in New Jersey.”
Read the full story here


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