I am thrilled that today, we saw a step forward for offshore wind power in New Jersey. In the federal government’s fifth lease auction for offshore wind power in United States waters, RES America Developments Inc and US Wind Inc each won leases after six competitive rounds of bidding. Combined, the newly leased areas could produce enough clean, local power to provide electricity to roughly 1.2 million homes.
New Jersey has a world-class clean energy resource now truly within reach. It is time for the state’s leaders to take action to ensure responsibly developed offshore wind projects move forward in the leased areas – an unparalleled opportunity to generate thousands of high-quality jobs, diversify our energy portfolio, ensure lower, more predictable energy prices over time, and protect wildlife and future generations from the dangers of climate change.
2014 remains the hottest year on record, and 2015 is on track to join the ranks. New Jersey knows all too well the immediacy of the threat of a warming world. As extreme weather events grow stronger and more frequent, state leadership needs to recognize that offshore wind power is truly a solution that matches the scale of our challenges. All eyes are on New Jersey to capitalize on this moment.
Teeing Up State Leadership
New Jersey has a lot of catching up to do. Rhode Island is currently constructing the first offshore wind turbines to be operational in the United States. Five massive turbines, standing over two football fields over the ocean, will be spinning next summer producing all the energy needs and more for Block Island. They will also be replacing dirty diesel electric generators that have powered the island for decades.
Massachusetts leadership is currently debating legislation which would make the largest commitment to offshore wind in the country. Finally, the Empire State may turn into the offshore wind state. New York officials are pushing forward on a range of initiatives that may make this country’s race for offshore wind quite competitive.
Having shared all this good news, I have to add that anyone that has worked with me knows – I have a really big soft spot for all things Jersey. Having spent a decade and a half working in the Garden State on clean energy development, I think New Jersey can and must be the nation’s leader in offshore wind. New Jersey is in a sweet spot to grow manufacturing and port facilities similar to those in Europe (which has 3,000 turbines currently spinning) that employ 75,000 people. Beyond its potential economic impact, responsibly developed offshore wind power is New Jersey’s and our region’s best hope to address our climate change challenge, help wildlife, and revitalize our economy creating thousands of jobs along the way.
Before joining the National Wildlife Federation as the Northeast Regional Executive Director, Curtis worked for Governor Corzine, Codey and McGreevey. Before joining the Governor’s staff, he was the Executive Director of NJPIRG.