In the bidding process, which is evolving into an extremely competitive process, 13 developers have submitted proposals for 80 projects to transfer electricity from offshore wind farms to New Jersey customers.

Applications include a number of projects related to the modernization of onshore power lines, beach crossings, and efforts to connect offshore wind farms and facilities. The 80 projects are being reviewed jointly by the New Jersey Public Services Council and the country’s largest network operator PJM Interconnection.

The modernization of the transmission network is potentially one of the most important components in whether the state will be able to achieve the Murphy administration’s goal of having enough offshore wind turbines to generate 7,500 megawatts of electricity by 2035.

“Transmission is never the sexual part of energy, but it is the most important. It’s important to make offshore wind farms work, ”said Doug O’Malley, New Jersey’s director of the environment and a strong supporter of developing more offshore wind farms.

It is expected that the modernization of the transmission will be expensive. In 2020, the Business Network for Offshore Wind predicts that if all offshore wind farms offered by New Jersey and four other coastal states are built, it could lead to offshore transmission costs of $ 15 billion to $ 20 billion.

More cost effective?

To date, the developers of the first three offshore wind projects are deciding where to build their own connections with land vehicles. BPU, however, reached an agreement with the regional grid operator to open competitive bidding last year for future offshore wind farms.

This approach is seen by government officials and others as a potentially more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly way to bring electricity from wind farms to shore. It could also lead to the construction of a main wind transmission line, which will allow developers to direct offshore energy to where it is most in demand. The result of this process has major implications for utility customers, who will pay for wind farms and upgrade the transmissions needed to supply electricity to residents and businesses.

As part of the evaluation of 80 projects, the state has scheduled a series of stakeholder meetings to gather the views of developers and the public, starting on Tuesday and lasting until mid-April. BPU expects to decide which projects to approve, if any, by October 2022.

The agency directed bidders to focus on four locations in New Jersey, where it recommended a PJM plan to introduce wind energy into the offshore network. These included substations in southern New Jersey (Cardiff); two in central Jersey (Larraby and Smithburg); and one in northern New Jersey (Dean). All will require upgrades to reach the 7,500 MW target by 2035.

For environmentalists, minimizing the impact of landfilling is a priority.

Impact on the environment

“The number one priority is for the BPU to consider minimizing or eliminating environmental impact,” said Ed Potosnack, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation League.

One of the four meetings to be held by the BPU will focus on environmental issues and permits, exploring both the positive and negative impacts of projects on wildlife, recreational and industrial fisheries and natural resources.

Another session will consider how the cost of potential projects, the protection of payers and the possibility of attracting federal funding will be distributed.

The list of developers wishing to work on power transmission projects includes Ørsted / PSEG, which is building the first offshore wind farm in the state near Atlantic City, and Anbaric, a developer of power transmission projects. The developers claim that the modernization of transmissions will accelerate the growth of the marine wind sector and create significant jobs in clean energy.

“This is a great sign that we are doing offshore wind work in New Jersey,” Potosnak said, referring to the competitive bidding process.

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