Eleven Offshore Wind Power Companies Express Interest In New Jersey Coast

The proposals come in response to a Call for Information and Nominations from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement. Eleven wind energy companies have expressed an interest in constructing wind turbines to create electric energy off the New Jersey coast, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced Friday.

The expressions of interest are part of a federal process that will ultimately determine the development of offshore leases for wind energy projects.

"This robust response from offshore wind farm developers makes it clear that commercial interest in development of wind turbines is strong, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said.

The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) issued a federal notice, known as a Call for Information and Nominations, to gauge developers’ interest in leasing portions of the outer continental shelf off New Jersey for wind turbine projects.

The firms submitting project nominations are: Offshore MW LLC; Neptune Wind LLC; Garden State Offshore Wind Energy I LLC; Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy LLC; TCI Renewables Inc.; Mainstream Renewable Power; enXco Development Corp.; U.S. Wind Inc.; New Jersey Offshore Wind LLC; Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey LLC, and Iberdrola Rewewables Inc.

Martin said that ranging in size from 350 megawatts to as much as 3,000 megawatts, the proposed wind power projects represent approximately 12,500 total megawatts of wind energy capacity. Multiple wind farm proposals overlap the same federal leasing blocks, meaning that the total power generation capacity of the wind power facilities constructed would ultimately be much less than the total of the proposed projects.

The proposed leasing area encompasses 418 square nautical miles between Barnegat Light and Avalon. The area begins seven 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.

Before being acquired by NRG in November 2009, and pre-dating the federal-state Smart from the Start program, Bluewater Wind won approval to build a 350-megawatt wind farm 15 miles off the New Jersey coast. The company retains the approval to plug into the PJM Interconnection.

Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint effort of PSEG and Deepwater Wind, submitted several proposals, said PSEG spokesman Mike Jennings. They range from a 350-megawatt wind farm about 20 miles off Ocean City to a 1,000-megawatt site. Like Bluewater Wind, Garden State received early approval in 2008, but given recent state-federal promotional efforts it wanted to get more ambitious. New Jersey’s goal is to have a homegrown wind power industry, and that is better achieved by a large project with assured demand on manufacturers and assemblers than by several smaller, piecemeal projects, Jennings explained. Garden State seeks to fill that large-project role for the state, he said.

Fishermen’s Energy, based in Cape May, has long planned a 330-megawatt project off the coast of Atlantic City. Sixty-six 5-megawatt turbines would be sited on 20,000 acres of water, and would serve municipal, commercial, industrial and other customers throughout New Jersey, according to the company.

As a prelude to that project, Fishermen’s is developing a much smaller one—six turbines and 20 megawatts on 692 acres—in state waters 2.8 miles off Atlantic City. Indeed, according to BPU spokesman Greg Reinert, Fishermen’s is the only company so far to respond to the agency’s May 17 request for information from companies interested in siting in state waters, within three miles of shoreline. The deadline for those submissions is June 14.

Gov. Christie reiterated his commitment to offshore wind power this week as part of the state’s Energy Master Plan.

The plan is less ambitious than the 2008 plan — developed under Gov. Jon Corzine — but will still achieve a renewable portfolio standard of 22.5 percent by 2021 (including a carve-out for offshore wind power), Christie said.

“The EMP supports the development of new energy-related technologies such as fuel cells, offshore wind, and alternatively fueled vehicles while encouraging the developers, providers and support businesses related to these technologies to locate here in New Jersey,” according to Christie.

New Jersey has “high quality, harvestable offshore wind,” the plan states, although it also notes that offshore wind power will initially be more expensive than other energy sources. The plan estimates the “levelized” cost of electricity from offshore wind power to $251 per megawatt-hour, more than double the cost of conventional energy sources.

Even so, the Christie administration said it remains committed to offshore wind power because of its abundant potential — single wind farms off New Jersey could reach 3,000-megawatt capacity — zero carbon emissions and the ability to spur the state’s economy. Through legislation he signed in August 2010, Christie aims to incubate offshore wind manufacturing and construction companies in New Jersey, with the Port of Paulsboro (near Philadelphia) as the nexus.

“Since wind turbine blades for offshore wind power plants are increasing in size, it is reasonable to assume that a turbine manufacturing facility will have to be located somewhere on the East Coast to provide blades for the growing list of proposed offshore wind facilities,” the EMP states.