New Jersey will move forward with offshore wind | Opinion

We are deeply disappointed that Ørsted has decided to pull out of two major wind projects off the New Jersey coast, but what makes me really sad are the anti-wind folks who are celebrating the demise of the projects and cheering for dirty air, a loss of jobs and rising ocean temperatures.

These projects would have accelerated our transition to clean, renewable energy even as they improved our air quality and created well-paying union jobs to thousands of skilled New Jerseyans.

Yet it’s important to put Orsted’s announcement earlier this week canceling the Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 projects in perspective.

Despite the recent news, offshore wind has a bright future in New Jersey and is likely to play a major role in the fight against climate change for decades to come.

Wind energy company, Atlantic Shores, “remains committed to delivering safe, reliable, renewable power and establishing a thriving domestic offshore wind industry anchored in New Jersey,” according to CEO Joris Veldhoven. This project alone will power more than 700,000 New Jersey homes, generate nearly $2 billion of in-state economic activity and create thousands of good-paying jobs in New Jersey’s thriving clean energy economy.

In the fall of 2021, ground broke on the $250 million, 200-acre New Jersey Wind Port in Salem County, which is projected to create approximately 1,500 permanent jobs and generate $500 million annually in economic activity. That’s in addition to the planned offshore wind manufacturing operation at Paulsboro in Gloucester County.

New Jersey is poised to lead the manufacturing and assembling of parts for the offshore wind industry up and down the East Coast. Last week's setback will likely cost hundreds of jobs, perhaps thousands.

The responsible development of New Jersey offshore wind will also create more equitable economic growth; especially for marginalized Black and brown communities that have been left behind and create a path to family-sustaining jobs and a lasting path to the middle class.

We can’t let problems experienced by a single developer blind us to the fact that a robust offshore wind industry is good for the environment, good for coastal communities already suffering from the impacts of climate change and good for the communities that will see union jobs and economic growth come to our state.

It’s not surprising that the rollout of offshore wind in New Jersey isn’t going perfectly. While offshore wind has been long-established in other places in the world, like Europe, it’s an almost entirely new phenomenon in the United States. It’s not unexpected that a new industry – particularly one that employs tens of thousands of people and involves global supply chains – would run into a few bumps along the way.

We saw the same thing happen when solar energy took off several years ago. A number of large projects were canceled because of changing market conditions – yet New Jersey today is a national leader in solar energy generation.

We believe the same is true for offshore wind.

New Jersey is blessed with some of the world’s best locations for offshore wind. Our gently sloping continental shelf, steady wind currents and proximity to major population centers mean that the Jersey Shore is the envy of the world. And we continue to see strong interest from other developers in moving forward with additional projects.

Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 were particularly vulnerable to disruption because they were conceived before the pandemic led to drastically increased interest rates, drove up the costs of steel and other building materials and forever changed global supply chains.

We hope that future projects take into account these changing market dynamics and trust Gov. Phil Murphy’s administration to closely scrutinize future offshore wind projects.

We also want to thank Governor Murphy and the state Legislature for their steadfast support for offshore wind – and for negotiating a smart deal with Ørsted.

Taxpayers and ratepayers haven’t spent a single penny on the canceled projects – and our elected leaders assured us that Ørsted entered into a performance bond to ensure it could complete this project.

Now that Ørsted has canceled its projects, we fully support the governor’s efforts to collect every penny of the $300 million we are owed.

We know that offshore wind is vital for New Jersey’s future. Our state remains poised to be a national leader in offshore wind.

With offshore wind, we have a historic opportunity to tackle the climate crisis even as we deliver economic prosperity for our state.