JUNE 2011

New Jersey seeks firms to develop offshore wind power

New Jersey has identified nearly 500 companies that could become involved in the development of wind power through the construction and assembling of turbines.

Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced that the Christie administration is issuing a formal request for firms interested in acquiring leases through the federal government for the construction of wind farms off the coast of New Jersey.

The request, known as a call for nominations, is issued through the United States Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and is the first step in the commercial renewable energy leasing process.

Responses will assist the federal agency in determining interest in a proposed leasing area encompassing 418 square nautical miles off the coast between Barnegat Light and Avalon. This leasing area begins 7 nautical miles off the shoreline and extends up to 23 nautical miles into the ocean, encompassing 43 entire federal leasing blocks and parts of 34 others.

Responses will inform BOEMRE as to competitive interest for leases, and will assist the agency in determining the next steps in the leasing process for waters off New Jersey.

In 2009, BOEMRE issued Interim Policy leases to Deepwater Wind LLC, Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy LLC, and Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey LLC that authorize these companies to install and operate facilities to characterize wind and environmental resources. The Interim Policy leases do not authorize construction.

The leasing area was delineated in consultation with the New Jersey Energy Task Force and BOEMRE, based on extensive environmental data collected during a two-year DEP ecological baseline study of marine and avian resources.

Under Governor Christie, the state has developed a number of proactive laws and policies to foster the development of renewable energy, including the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which the Governor signed into law last year.

This law authorizes creation of an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) program and makes available financial assistance and tax credits from existing programs for businesses that construct, manufacture, assemble and provide water access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects.

The state has identified nearly 500 companies that could become involved in the development of wind power through the construction and assembling of turbines.

The OREC program calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to come from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects – or enough electricity for approximately one million homes.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently identified the area off New Jersey as a Wind Energy Area (WEA) under the “Smart from the Start” program.

As such, it is eligible for study and consultation to foster responsible and efficient leasing and development. The WEA may be adjusted pending the results of comments and information received in response to the call for nominations and through the environmental review process.