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BOEM Releases Final Environmental Statement on First NJ Offshore Wind Farms

offshore wind farm
New Jersey's first projects continue through the review and approval process

Published May 27, 2024 7:09 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) is continuing its efforts to push forward with the review and approval of U.S. offshore wind projects. In the latest step, they are releasing the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for two New Jersey projects which are critical to the state’s efforts to jump-start its renewable wind energy efforts.

Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a joint venture partnership between Shell New Energies US and EDF-RE Offshore Development, submitted a combined Construction and Operations Plan for two wind energy facilities and associated export cables on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore New Jersey. If approved, the two projects could generate about 2,800 megawatts of electricity, enough to power almost one million homes.

“We are encouraged to see forward progress and getting another step closer to delivering New Jersey’s first offshore wind projects,” said Joris Veldhoven, chief executive officer of Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind.

The original lease auction was in 2015 and completed in 2016 although later assigned in 2018. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) awarded Atlantic Shores Project 1 an Offshore Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) in 2021, to deliver 1,510 MW of renewable power to the State of New Jersey.

New Jersey established the goal to achieve 100 percent clean energy by 2035 but has had delays and a major setback in 2023 when Ørsted abandoned two planned projects citing the changing economics. Governor Phil Murphy called it a “bump in the road” promising to launch a new solicitation in the summer of 2024. 

Atlantic Shores remains the most advanced of New Jersey’s projects but it is not likely to be online till 2027 and 2028. The next step will be the approval of the construction and operation plan by BOEM as the project continues through the approval process.

 

The joint venture partnership has a total of three lease areas (Atlantic Shores)

 

The combined proposal for the first two projects includes up to 200 total wind turbines and up to ten offshore substations with subsea transmission cables potentially making landfall in Atlantic City and Sea Girt. The lease area covers approximately 102,124 acres and is approximately 8.7 miles offshore of New Jersey at its closest point. The FEIS for Atlantic Shores Project 1 and 2 will be published in the Federal Register in the coming days. 

The company has a total of three lease areas under development with a third lease awarded in 2021 located in an area of the Atlantic Ocean known as the New York Bight. BOEM has just begun the environmental review process for that proposal.

The Department of the Interior highlights that it has approved the nation's first eight commercial-scale offshore wind projects with a combined capacity of more than 10 gigawatts of clean energy as part of the Biden administration's goal to deploy 30 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. Since January 2021, the Department has held four offshore wind lease auctions and recently released a new five-year offshore wind lease schedule, which includes up to 12 potential offshore wind energy lease sales in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific, and the waters offshore of the U.S. territories over the next five years.

While the approvals continue to move forward the industry is continuing to struggle to complete its first large projects. South Fork Wind, developed by Ørsted and Eversource, was completed in March 2024, but Vineyard Wind, being developed by Avangrid and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, is reported to be behind schedule. A report in a local newspaper, the Commonwealth Beacon, said as of mid-May only 16 of the planned 62 turbines are installed but the companies hope to accelerate installations with better weather in the summer months.

In May, two more large projects, Revolution Wind which will power Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Dominion Energy’s project off Virginia Beach both began installing foundations. Revolution Wind does not expect first power till 2025 while Dominion expects its project in late 2026.