NJ - New Jersey Legislators Call to Suspend Offshore Wind Approval
A trio of New Jersey legislators who have promoted offshore wind energy development have called for suspending state approval of Ørsted’s Ocean Wind project, alleging the company has so far “failed to deliver” on its promises of new jobs and economic development in the state.
In a Sept. 9 letter to state utility regulators, New Jersey state Senate president Steve Sweeney and Assembly members John Burzichelli and Adam Taliaferro, all Democrats with strong ties to construction and industrial union labor, cited pledges by Ørsted to hire all union labor, provide grants to spur business owned by minorities and women, and build monopile foundations in the state.
“We are starting to speak with our colleagues throughout the Northeast about their experiences with wind energy companies, including Ørsted,” they state in the letter. “We are asking if these companies, including Ørsted, have made the same representations in other states and have equally failed to deliver.”
The state Board of Public Utilities, which in June 2019 approved use of renewable energy credits for the Ocean Wind project, should ask regulators in other states if wind developers’ economic guarantees have borne fruit yet, say the legislators, who sponsored a 2010 law requiring that wind developers provide certain economic benefits to the New Jersey economy.
“If these concerns are validated, we request that you terminate the award and immediately commence a new and more transparent process for offshore wind project applicants,” they wrote. “This is of the utmost importance given the significant amount of public money being utilized to fund this project.”
Ørsted officials expressed some puzzlement over the letter, arriving on the very day the state utilities board opened a second round of solicitations for another 1,200-megawatt wind energy project to follow on Ocean Wind. Those bids are due Dec. 10.
“We are surprised by what we read and do not agree with what the letter is suggesting,” according to a statement from Lauren company spokeswoman Lauren Burm.