Gov. Phil Murphy leaned in as he shook hands with state Senate President Steve Sweeney on Thursday morning and said, “Big win for the home team.”
Sweeney returned the grin and moments later the two readied themselves for their real “grip and grin” moment.
They were at a groundbreaking for the New Jersey Wind Port in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County. The pair touted the project as a way to position the state as a major offshore wind hub and staging place for assembly and transport of 900-foot structures needed for each ocean wind turbine. The state Economic Development Authority has estimated the total cost of construction would be between $300 and $400 million.
New Jersey has already approved the Ocean Wind I development of 30 of these giant wind turbines to be installed 15 miles off the coast of Ocean City, Cape May County. At least two more wind farm projects are in development and moving through the legislature, and other states along the East Coast are also following suit.
The Lower Alloways site is slated to be an assembly point for the windmill tower, which also includes rotor, nacelle and blade. The structures are moved in a vertical position, are too heavy for land transport and must be able to clear power lines and bridges. That was one reason the remote site in Lower Alloways Creek, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, was selected, Murphy and Sweeney said.
But Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who represents the 3rd legislative district, along with Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro and Sweeney in the Senate, all Democrats, provided some extra insight into just how hard fought the battle to open the port was.
“We didn’t get here by accident,” Burzichelli said to an assembled crowd of about 100 outside of the PSEG Nuclear’s Hope Creek Generating Station where the port will be built. “This didn’t just fall out of the sky. It came together almost in a fist fight at times.
“But it came together. Some of those meetings were uncomfortable. And some of the words that were exchanged didn’t have more than four letters. But they were effective. It was a language that broke down international barriers.”
The Danish power company Orsted has won approvals to build Ocean Winds I and II and another company has approval for a project called Atlantic Shores. Ocean Wind II and Atlantic Shores were approved by the state Board of Public Utilities in July. The projects are expected to produce 2,658 megawatts of clean power by 2029. The approvals were the single largest award of offshore wind capacity in the nation to date, and it more than triples the Garden State’s commitment to the budding industry.
Ocean Winds I was approved in 2019 and will generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity when it becomes operational in 2024.
All of the projects have committed to using the New Jersey Wind Port and the Port of Paulsboro, which will assemble the monopile poles for the turbines. That port, just up the Delaware River from Lower Alloways Creek, also in Sweeney, Burzichelli and Taliaferro’s district, began renovations several years ago to build reinforced piers to handle heavy break bulk cargo like this.
“People from different parts of the world understood that when you said something in New Jersey, it meant a little something different than somewhere other than New Jersey,” Burzichelli told the crowd which responded with a laugh.
Federal Department of Labor Sec. Marty Walsh was also on hand Thursday for the groundbreaking. He hailed a project labor agreement to use union labor at the port and said President Joe Biden supports the alternative energy push in New Jersey, and an infrastructure bill making its way through Congress will help fund more projects like this.
The state has locked in more than 3,700 megawatts of future power from offshore wind, enough to power roughly 1.5 million homes according to the BPU. The two projects are expected to create 7,000 new jobs, and bring $3.5 billion in benefits to New Jersey’s economy.
Construction on the wind port is expected to begin this year and start operations no later than early 2024, a state news release said.
Background Information previously reported by NJ.com is included in this report.
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