Gov. Phil Murphy has signed an executive order directing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to implement fully the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act and begin the process of moving the state toward a goal of 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy generation by the year 2030.
“Little progress has been made on offshore wind development in New Jersey despite a pledge from the previous administration to facilitate our growth of offshore wind,” Murphy said in a statement on the Jan. 31 action. “We cannot allow for stagnation in this growing sector of our energy economy and we cannot lose sight of the tremendous opportunity for offshore wind at the Jersey Shore. With this executive order, we begin the process of making New Jersey a leader in offshore wind, a critical step toward achieving our clean energy goals.”
In 2010, Governor Chris Christie signed OWEDA, a piece of legislation allowing state agencies to craft an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program. But despite OWEDA being signed eight years ago, gaps remain in the regulations for implementing the OREC program and offshore wind developers have not obtained the necessary approvals from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to move forward.
Murphy’s executive order directs the Board of Public Utilities to begin the rulemaking process to fill the gaps in the current regulations governing the OREC program. The order also directs Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso and New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe to work together to establish an Offshore Wind Strategic Plan for New Jersey.
The plan will focus on critical components of offshore wind development, including job growth, workforce development, data collection, and appropriate determination of facilities, as well as ensuring that natural resources are protected.
Under the order, Board of Public Utilities will implement the OREC program by approving financial plans submitted by offshore wind developers. After the creation of a process to approve such plans, the Board of Public Utilities will issue a solicitation calling for proposed offshore wind projects for the generation of 1,100 megawatts of electric power — the nation’s largest such solicitation to date. Finally, the executive order instructs the Board of Public Utilities to engage with neighboring states on the potential benefits of regional collaboration on offshore wind.
“Our goal is to grow offshore wind in a way that creates jobs and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels,” Murphy said. “New Jersey is committed to growing our clean energy sector, and offshore wind is at the crux of increasing that part of our economy.”