WARETOWN, NJ – Although wind energy generates electricity for many homes worldwide, offshore wind turbines for that use are still a novelty in the United States. That said, a wind farm project underway in New Jersey will ultimately provide energy to more than half a million residences. This translates to 1,100 MW and puts the state on the national map with its largest wind farm.

At a meeting last week at the Holiday Beach Club, Ørsted’s Kris Ohleth led a presentation on what has been dubbed the Ocean Wind project.  In June, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved Denmark’s Ørsted for development of the offshore wind farm, which will be located 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. Notably, PSE&G supports the project.

New Jersey already stands an innovator when it comes to wind energy. In fact, the Jersey-Atlantic Wind Farm earned national distinction as the country’s first coastal wind farm.  Visible from a few roadways, its five turbines provide the Atlantic City Utilities Authority Wastewater Treatment Plant with approximately 60% of its electricity.

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“Those turbines are on land,” clarified Ohleth. “The project we’re talking about would be built out in the ocean.”

According to Ohleth, New Jersey has a very large buildable continental shelf.  She attributed this to the state’s shallow waters, saying that it’s only 100 feet deep at 20 miles offshore.

 As far as the Ocean Wind project, the wind turbines are the signature focus of its offshore components.  They will be strategically placed in federal waters, 15 miles off the shoreline and address both visible impact and environmental concerns.

Ohleth explained that the distance from the shore makes the turbines less potentially damaging to the migratory flyway. “The birds that fly up and down the coast of New Jersey tend to stay closer to shore,” she said. “That’s where they feed and rest.”

A couple of weeks ago, the National Wildlife Federation and New Jersey Audubon jointly published an opinion piece applauding the Ocean Wind project proposal as “identifying potential environmental impacts, engaging stakeholders, and mitigating these potential environmental impacts.”

In considering their own offshore windfarms, New York State conducted a study regarding the impact on fish and fisheries. Ørsted plans to stay engaged regarding both commercial and recreational fishing and the Ocean Wind project.

Process Moves to Onshore

The wind turbines spin around and generate the electricity. Once that happens, energy is transmitted by buried submarine cables to shore into existing interconnection points. The concept mirrors how utility companies currently use existing right of ways and roadways.

“We would bring the cable in somewhere around the Island Beach State Park area, “shared Ohleth. The next part of the plan brings attention to the Oyster Creek Power Plant region.

Ohleth said the goal is to take advantage of the hardened grid that exists because of the retired power plant.  This means furthering the cable and taking advantage of the opportunity to inject power.

The Ocean Wind project begins construction in the early 2020’s and becomes operational in 2024. Initially, it calls for creation of approximately 3,000 new jobs in the area that will wind down to 70 when the project finishes.

Stephanie A. Faughnan is a local journalist and Director of Writefully Inspired, a professional writing and resume service. Feel free to contact her at sfaughnan@tapinto.net.