On Friday, August 16, more than 240 offshore wind energy supporters gathered at the Atlantic City campus of Stockton University for a full day of information-sharing and networking to support the development of a just and sustainable offshore wind industry in New Jersey. On the heels of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities award for the 1100 megawatt (MW) offshore wind power contract – the single largest in the country–Governor Phil Murphy used this opportunity to announce via recorded video his signing of an Executive Order creating a special Council which will design the New Jersey WIND Institute.
Under this new Council, which will be led by the Office of the Secretary of Higher Education and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA), the WIND Institute will act as a clearinghouse for offshore wind technology and research and development, along with a wide range of educational and training programs to develop the highly skilled workforce that will be needed for these massive offshore wind farms.
In addition to the big announcement, top international offshore wind developers, state officials, labor leaders, and environmentalists shared presentations on the tremendous progress the industry has made in the last 12 months, and looked ahead to more major developments for the rest of the year and into 2020.
NJ Board of Public Utilities President Joseph Fiordaliso spoke on the BPU’s progress on projects like the Energy Master Plan and the Offshore Wind Strategic Plan, and State Senate President Steve Sweeney followed with his review of offshore wind legislation passed and signed by Governor Phil Murphy, the factory for offshore turbine wind foundations that will be built in the Paulsboro port area, and his vision for what lies ahead for the Senate and Assembly in the next six to twelve months.
One highlight of the day was the panel of three offshore wind developers including Ørsted, the Danish company that won that 1100MW contract; Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, which holds a huge Wind Energy Area off of Atlantic City; and Equinor, which has a Wind Energy Area 20 miles east of Sandy Hook, which was led by Liz Burdock of the Business Network for Offshore Wind.
Debra Coyle McFadden, Executive Director, New Jersey Work Environment Council, moderated a Labor panel that included an Assistant Commissioner for L&WD and labor leaders from the Carpenters, United Steelworkers, Blue Green Alliance, and IBEW.
The event was co-sponsored by Jersey Renews and the Business Network for Offshore Wind, with major organizational support from Environment New Jersey, the New Jersey Work Environment Council, Stockton University and the Energy Foundation.
Liz Burdock, Executive Director, Business Network for Offshore Wind, said, “I am amazed at the way this industry and this event have grown over the past three years. Given the impacts and urgency of climate change that we are facing on the New Jersey shoreline, it is inspiring to see all of the ways that state government and the offshore wind industry are working together to bring utility-scale clean energy to New Jersey ratepayers as soon as possible.”