New Jersey’s Atlantic Shores wind energy project gets key U.S. approval


Federal regulators have given the go-ahead for New Jersey’s Atlantic Shores wind farm project that the state hopes will one day produce enough energy to power 1 million homes. The project planned off the coast of Atlantic City still needs to clear additional hurdles, but it could become the first to move forward in New Jersey’s push to advance an industry that has encountered setbacks.

The U.S. Department of the Interior said Tuesday that the project proposed in waters between Atlantic City and Long Beach Island is an important step toward reaching the Biden administration’s goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore energy by 2030. To date, the federal government has approved projects that will generate more than 13 gigawatts — enough to provide power for about 5 million homes in the United States.

The Atlantic Shores project would consist of two wind farms roughly 8.7 miles off the coast at their closest points. It would involve the construction of up to 200 wind turbine generators and 10 offshore substations. In total, the project is projected to produce up to 2,800 megawatts of electricity.

In order to gain full approval, the project will need federal backing for a construction and operations plan and two state permits.

“Today’s approval of an offshore wind project that has a labor agreement with six New Jersey unions reflects the win-win opportunities that we are seizing to benefit local workers and communities,” national climate adviser Ali Zaidi said in a statement. “The Biden-Harris administration will continue to use every available tool to grow the American offshore wind industry as we strengthen the nation’s power grid and tackle the climate crisis.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has made an ambitious push to leave behind fossil fuel plants in favor of renewable energy sources. He established a goal for New Jersey to use 100% clean energy by 2050, including an offshore wind goal of 7,500 megawatts by 2035 and 11,000 megawatts by 2040.

But the state has had trouble advancing its wind projects, most notably the Ocean Wind 1 and 2 that were scrapped by Danish wind energy developer Orsted. The company cited rising costs and supply chain delays for its decision to back out of the projects, which also would have been constructed off the coast of South Jersey.

Atlantic Shores is a joint partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF-RE Offshore Development LLC.

Coastal communities in New Jersey have pushed back against the state’s wind energy plans because of complaints about how they’ll affect the environment, commercial fisheries and tourism if the infrastructure becomes a visual blight. Opponents also have argued that wind projects disrupt the ocean ecosystem and claim pre-construction survey work offshore has contributed to a rise in whale deaths and standings.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said there’s no scientific proof of a connection between wind development and whale deaths. They have suggested climate change has brought more whales and their prey closer to shore, resulting in an increased number of ship strikes and entanglements in fishing nets.

In March, Murphy announced $3.7 million in funding for ecological research on offshore wind energy and whale behavior in the state’s offshore wind lease areas.

Earlier this year, New Jersey regulators approved two additional wind farm projects that still require federal approval.

Leading Light Wind, proposed about 40 miles off the coast of Long Beach Island, would power as many as 1 million homes with up to 100 turbines. That project is a collaboration between Chicago-based Invenergy and New York-based energyRe.

The other project, Attentive Energy, would be constructed about 42 miles off the coast of Seaside Heights and would provide enough energy to power about 600,000 homes. That project is a joint venture between TotalEnergies and Corio Generation.

Federal approval for the Atlantic Shores project followed a final environmental impact statement that drew feedback from public meetings intended to create mitigation strategies for effects on the ocean and coastal communities.



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