Why It Matters: It’s the latest in Biden’s wind energy plan
The Ocean Wind 1 project represents a major step in President Biden’s goal of generating 30,000 megawatts from offshore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide by 2030. It would be located 13 nautical miles from Atlantic City.
In addition to the turbines, the approval calls for building as many as three offshore substations, through which electricity produced by the floating turbines will be fed, in the lease area.
Elizabeth Klein, the director of B.O.E.M., called the approval “another significant step forward for the offshore wind industry in the United States.”
Liz Burdock, founder and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, which supports the project, said in a statement that workers in New Jersey as well as fabricators in Baltimore, Md., are starting to manufacture components for the turbines.
“The announcement of Ocean Wind 1’s Record of Decision today represents a pivotal inflection point not just for Orsted, but for New Jersey’s nation-leading offshore wind industry as a whole,” said New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat. Mr. Murphy has said he hopes New Jersey will be the nation’s leading producer of wind energy by 2040.
The Biden administration already has approved a 62-turbine facility planned for the waters off Martha’s Vineyard., Mass., known as Vineyard Wind. It also approved South Fork Wind, a 12-turbine project off the coast of Rhode Island that will provide power to Long Island, N.Y.
But there are hurdles. Landowners and fishing groups have sued to stop the Vineyard Wind project, arguing the administration did not adequately study the consequences the wind farm might have on local fishermen, or on the endangered North American right whale.
In New Jersey, three groups recently sued the state to try to stop the Ocean Wind 1 project, arguing the wind turbines will harm marine life and violate New Jersey’s coastal management rules. Bruce Afran, an attorney who represents Save Long Beach Island, Protect Our Coast N.J. and Defend Brigantine Beach, said the community activists intend to challenge Wednesday’s approval.
In approving Ocean Wind 1, the Biden administration defended the project against environmental attacks and said the company intends to impose an “extensive range” of measures to protect marine life including sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon.
What to know: Misinformation about offshore wind.
Since January, 25 whales have been stranded or died along the East Coast, fueling arguments by opponents that seismic studies conducted for offshore wind projects are to blame. Scientists say there is no evidence of a connection and suspect other factors, including climate change. Marine species are increasingly adapting to warming oceans by moving into new areas, including closer to shores where they are more vulnerable to ship strikes and becoming entangled with fishing gear.
“There are no known links between recent large whale mortalities and ongoing offshore wind surveys,” the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on its website.
What’s Next: Construction begins soon.
Federal approval was the last regulatory step for Ocean Wind 1, which can now begin construction. Orsted has said it expects to begin operation in late 2024 or early 2025.