New Jersey continues to take steps to position itself as a leader in offshore wind development. Gov. Phil Murphy recently signed Executive Order No. 92, which expanded the State’s offshore wind goal to 7,500 MW by 2035.

“There is no other renewable energy resource that provides us with either the electric-generation or economic-growth potential of offshore wind,” Governor Murphy said in a press statement. “When we reach our goal of 7,500 megawatts, New Jersey’s offshore wind infrastructure will generate electricity to power more than 3.2 million homes and meet fifty percent of our state’s electric power need. Our offshore wind industry will generate billions of dollars in investments in New Jersey’s future, that will, in turn, create thousands of jobs. We have an immense opportunity to maximize our potential and make this region – and, specifically New Jersey – the nexus of the global offshore wind industry.”

Murphy Administration Prioritizing Offshore Wind

Since taking office, Gov. Murphy has taken several steps to move the state’s towards clean energy and further the growth of New Jersey’s offshore wind industry. Shortly after taking office, he issued Executive Order No. 8 (2018), which set an initial goal of 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind generation by the year 2030. The Administration subsequently launched an Offshore Wind Tax Credit Program, which aims to spur private capital investment and employment growth in major, land-based offshore wind industry projects by providing reimbursement for eligible capital investments in industry-specific facilities located in the seven southern counties of New Jersey.

On June 21, 2019, the Board of Public Utilities awarded the first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind generation to be developed in the State. The Ørsted project, known as Ocean Wind, will be located off the coast of Atlantic City and represents the largest ever offshore wind procurement by a U.S. state. It is projected to generate $1.17 billion in economic benefits and power 500,000 New Jersey homes.

Wind Innovation and New Development Institute

To further boost offshore wind development in New Jersey, in August 2019, Governor Murphy signed Executive Order No. 79 establishing the Wind Innovation and New Development Institute to oversee the industry. According to the Executive Order, the WIND Institute will serve as a clearinghouse for education, research, innovation, and workforce training related to the development of offshore wind in this State and the Northeast region.

“From job creation to workforce development to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, the WIND Institute and the council tasked with its development make good on our commitment to building a New Jersey economy fit for the 21st century,” Gov. Murphy said in a press statement. “Centralizing the state’s resources under one roof allows us to leverage the considerable expertise at our disposal to enhance our position as a national leader in offshore wind development.”

Members of the council will include individuals from the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education; the Economic Development Authority; the Board of Public Utilities; and the Departments of Education, Environmental Protection, and Labor and Workforce Development, as well as the governor’s chief policy advisor and chief counsel. The objectives of the council will include the following:

  • Recommending a governance structure for the WIND Institute;
  • Identifying available funding mechanisms;
  • Identifying potential physical locations, including a headquarters and possible satellite locations;
  • Conducting a gap analysis of current resources in New Jersey and the region, and the necessary education, workforce training, and workforce development needs to offer a skilled workforce for employers in offshore wind generation;
  • Recommending models and programs for the WIND Institute to partner with the offshore wind industry on critical research and development challenges, with the goal of establishing New Jersey as a long-term hub for offshore wind industry innovation; and
  • Developing and recommending the primary functions of the WIND Institute, including how to define its coordination role, as well as various programs and certifications to be offered by the WIND Institute.

New Jersey Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group 

In November 2019, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that it will lead a newly established working group of fishing and conservation groups to provide guidance to the Administration’s overall strategy and approach to achieving its offshore wind goals. The New Jersey Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group will draw representatives from commercial and recreational fishing industries, conservation organizations, maritime industry, and fisheries councils. Representatives from state and federal governments will serve in an ex officio capacity.

“Offshore wind development is critical to achieving our statewide goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and it is important that all interested parties have a voice in that process,” said DEP Commissioner Catherine McCabe. “By working together with the fishing industry and conservation community in reaching this goal, we can effectively combat the harmful effects of sea-level rise and climate change while preserving critical aspects of our economy and natural resources.”

According to the NJDEP, the group has five objectives:

  • Enhancing communication and coordination between fishing and conservation communities and state and federal agencies;
  • Providing a platform for the fishing and conservation communities to have meaningful input to assist the state with its decision making as New Jersey moves forward with its clean energy goals;
  • Sharing existing data, research and information sources with fishing and environmental groups;
  • Providing information on current uses of proposed offshore wind areas in order to allow DEP and other agencies to better address, and potentially mitigate any potential conflicts; and
  • Supporting scientific and technical research at state and regional levels to address issues related to offshore wind energy project planning, siting, construction, operation and monitoring.

Efforts to increase collaboration with both public and private partners is clearly good news for New Jersey’s offshore wind industry. With New York also looking to become a leader in clean energy, New Jersey must take steps to spur further growth and investment within its borders.

For entities seeking to explore opportunities in the rapidly growing industry, Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Renewable Energy and Green Initiatives Practice Group can provide businesses with the broad range of legal services needed to successfully navigate the continually-evolving legal landscape.

If you have questions, please contact us

If you have any questions or if you would like to discuss the matter further, please contact me, Dan McKillop, or the Scarinci Hollenbeck attorney with whom you work, at 201-806-3364.