The federal government will lease new Atlantic areas in February

Some 480,000 acres of Atlantic Ocean off the coasts of New Jersey and Long Island will be auctioned off to energy companies next month in the federal government’s latest move to bring in 30 gigawatts of power generation. renewable wind energy in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions.

The so-called New York Bight region has six ocean rental areas that stretch south from Sandy Hook and have the potential to generate between 5.6 gigawatts and 7 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power approximately 2 million homes, according to the Federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland called the action “a unique opportunity to fight climate change and create well-paying union jobs in the United States.”

Six offshore wind power rental areas called New York Bight, shown in color, lie to the east of the New Jersey wind power rental areas, shown in gray.

“We are at an inflection point for the national development of offshore wind energy. We must seize this moment – and we must do it together,” she said in a press release.

Together, New Jersey and New York plan to build 16 gigawatts of offshore power generation capacity by 2035.

Companies nationwide stand to benefit from a $109 billion “revenue opportunity” in the offshore wind supply chain over the next decade, according to a report prepared by offshore wind advocates.

The terms of the lease encourage energy companies to supply turbine components from the United States.

An aerial view of the Kentish Flats Wind Farm shows the wind turbines.

Governor Phil Murphy said New Jersey’s lease areas and its future wind port in Salem County are poised to make the Garden State a leader in the nation’s growing offshore wind industry.

“Offshore wind holds tremendous promise for our future in terms of climate change, economic growth, strengthening our workforce and creating jobs,” Murphy said in a statement. “New Jersey has already committed to creating nearly a quarter of the nation’s offshore wind generation market, and these transformative projects are proof that climate action can spur investment in infrastructure and manufacturing, while creating well-paying union jobs.”

Can we afford it? NJ wants to be the national leader in renewable energy

While wind turbines in previously planned New Jersey rental areas will be visible on a clear day from Long Beach Island and Atlantic City, it was not immediately clear whether any of the proposed wind turbines in the New York Bight area would also be visible. visible.

Some fishing industry advocates worry about the less visible impacts of turbines. The Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA), a coalition of fishing associations and companies, says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has so far failed to protect its industry from the impacts of offshore wind nor responded to their concerns.

Most offshore wind farms in the world are installed up to 20 miles from shore.

Offshore wind farms:Why NJ’s multi-billion dollar fishing industry is worried

“The frequency of announcements from BOEM on the progress of individual offshore wind projects is staggering and far exceeds the time required to conduct an intentional environmental review,” said Anne Hawkins, Executive Director of RODA. “Yet the agency has so far only involved fisheries experts through superficial advice and commentary, which has failed to resolve disputes, especially as fishermen are affected by multiple projects.

The federal agency is hosting a stakeholder meeting with members of the fishing community on January 19. But Hawkins said that so far the agency has only held “token outreach” meetings with members of his community. Cumulative impacts on the environment and coastal communities have yet to be addressed by BOEM, she said.

“We desperately need a programmatic and inclusive approach to achieving the twin goals of seafood sustainability and renewable energy,” Hawkins said in a statement. “The NY Bight is a highly conflicted area and issuing new leases before putting processes in place to mitigate the obvious risks this scale of development poses to historic food production and ecological resilience will result in devastating impacts that would have been largely avoidable with careful planning.”

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Environmental organization Clean Ocean Action also criticized the New York Bight lease announcement, saying the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management was proceeding with ocean industrialization “without care for marine life”.

The wind turbines would be built along a migration route of the North Atlantic right whale, an endangered species of which it is estimated that fewer than 350 animals remain.

North Atlantic right whales (Source: NOAA Fisheries)

Last month, offshore wind developers in New Jersey agreed to help fund ocean research on marine life, paying $10,000 per megawatt of capacity to help New Jersey scientists better understand the impact of the parks. wind turbines on the ecosystem of the Atlantic ocean. The state’s research oversight initiative will direct a total of $26 million from power companies toward studying the impacts of wind turbines on ocean wildlife and commercial fishing, according to state officials.

Clean Ocean Action urged BOEM to review this data and investigate pilot areas for wind turbines before New York Bight is fully developed.

In a statement on Wednesday, officials from the environmental organization said: “The pilot-scale projects will help resolve the remaining uncertainty about the marine impacts of offshore wind, ensuring that the very ecosystem that has cushioned the impacts of climate change is not destroyed, and that the very soul of this region’s economy, the clean ocean economy, continues to have the support it needs to thrive.”

Related:Ocean environmental studies to be paid for in New Jersey by offshore wind developers

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Amanda Oglesby is from Ocean County and covers the townships of Brick, Barnegat and Lacey as well as the environment. She has worked for the press for more than a decade. Reach her at @OglesbyAPP, aoglesby@gannettnj.com or 732-557-5701.

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