Obama Administration Announces Progress for Offshore Wind Power in New JerseyMomentum continues to build on the journey toward realizing America’s offshore wind power potential. Today, Interior Secretary Jewell kicked off the leasing process for New Jersey’s 344,000 acre Wind Energy Area marking a key milestone in the process for offshore wind energy development in federal waters. Jewell’s announcement comes exactly one month after she joined state officials in Boston to initiate the same stage of the process for the Massachusetts Wind Energy Area – and with an auction scheduled next month for the area off of Maryland, she shows no signs of slowing down.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management worked with federal, state, local, and tribal partners – including wildlife experts – to identify New Jersey’s Wind Energy Area. Two areas, a north lease and a south lease, will ultimately be sold in a competitive auction, just as we saw in southern New England last year, and as we will see in Maryland on August 19th. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates the combined generation potential of New Jersey’s two areas to be close to 3,400 megawatts – enough to power 1.2 million American homes.
“Responsible offshore wind energy development has the potential to create jobs, expand our domestic clean energy resources, and strengthen our nation’s economic competitiveness… We are another important step closer to harnessing the enormous potential of wind energy off New Jersey’s shores—a resource that could power more than one million homes.”
– Interior Secretary Sally Jewell
With Secretary Jewell’s persistent leadership on offshore wind power, the Obama Administration has set the stage for state leaders to take the reins and help drive such critical clean energy progress forward with responsible development off their shores.
In NWF’s latest offshore wind report released last week, we call on Atlantic Coast leaders to take action to ensure a competitive market for offshore wind power and to advance power contracts for offshore wind projects. With federal progress underway, state leadership is more important ever. Federal and state leadership are individually important – but crossing the finish line requires strength on both fronts. Developers need to know that their hefty investments will be met with a market ready to buy the clean power their projects will generate.
New Jersey has a lot to gain from developing its Wind Energy Area. The state’s precedent-setting Offshore Wind Development Act, passed in 2010 to incentivize 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind development, can finally be implemented. If fully developed, the Wind Energy Area could offset more than 3,000 megawatts of the state’s current reliance on carbon-polluting power sources, decreasing vulnerability to price spikes in fossil fuel markets.
The urgency of climate change, with sea level rise and stronger storms threatening coastal and low lying communities and wildlife habitats, serves as a pressing reminder that progress needs to be swift. And the protection of endangered and vulnerable species needs to serve as a guidepost through every stage of the siting, construction, and operation of offshore wind projects. It is a bold and essential undertaking – one that future generations of New Jersey residents and wildlife depend on – that we move forward with this massive clean energy solution both quickly and cautiously. The National Wildlife Federation fundamentally believes that offshore wind power can and must be developed in a way that does not threaten coastal and marine wildlife, and we track the process closely to ensure that America’s offshore wind power industry is built on a responsible foundation.
We applaud the Obama Administration for today’s step toward harnessing the golden opportunity of Atlantic offshore wind power and urge New Jersey state leadership to embrace its critical role in this journey toward a clean energy future.