The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has awarded Jersey Central Power and Light (JCP&L), a subsidiary of FirstEnergy Corp., the construction responsibility to connect clean energy generated by New Jersey’s offshore wind farms to the power grid.
The BPU selected JCP&L’s plan from among 80 proposals submitted by 13 different transmission developers in the nation’s first coordinated offshore wind transmission bidding process. The approximately $723 million in investments awarded to JCP&L to build new and upgrade existing transmission infrastructure represents about 70% of the nearly $1.1 billion project. The cost of the project is expected to be shared by all New Jersey electric customers.
“This is a historic moment for the state of New Jersey, and we are excited to play such an important role in helping the state meet its initial clean energy goal of 7,500 MW of wind-generated electricity by 2035,” says Jim Fakult, president of New Jersey operations for FirstEnergy. “Bringing this electricity to the grid in a safe, reliable, cost-effective manner is not just a benefit for JCP&L customers, but all residents and businesses in the state.”
JCP&L’s proposal was submitted in conjunction with offshore transmission developer Mid-Atlantic Offshore Development LLC (MAOD), a new company owned by Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America. Now that the project has been awarded, FirstEnergy has the option to acquire up to a 20% equity stake in MAOD with BPU approval.
Through the project, power from offshore wind farms in central New Jersey will be delivered onshore to a collection point in Monmouth County. The electricity then will be converted from direct current (DC) to the alternating current (AC) power that flows through the grid and enter JCP&L’s transmission system at the company’s Larrabee, Atlantic and Smithburg substations, all located in Monmouth County.
In addition to construction of new JCP&L transmission infrastructure to support the project, the award also includes additional upgrades to existing transmission equipment by JCP&L and other electric utilities to help support the additional electricity.
Scalability – especially important with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy’s recent announcement increasing the state’s offshore wind goal to 11 GW of electricity by 2040 – and the ability to construct the project within the state’s timelines are key benefits of JCP&L’s plan.
The BPU also highlighted the cost-efficiency and environmental benefits of JCP&L’s plan during the selection process. The plan protects communities and the environment by utilizing existing rights of way with no greenfield development. In addition, the use of a single transmission corridor to bring the electricity onshore will reduce environmental impacts and community disruption.
The award will now be reviewed by the PJM Board in accordance with its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan process. Project construction is expected to begin in 2025, with completion targeted by 2030.