Today, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) unanimously approved an order opening an application window for 1.1 GW of offshore wind capacity.
According to the NJBPU, this represents the nation’s largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind to date. It also marks the first step in meeting the state’s goal of 3.5 GW of offshore wind by 2030.
The vote occurred just days after Gov. Phil Murphy, D-N.J., called on the board to open two additional 1.2 GW solicitations of offshore wind capacity: one in 2020 and another in 2022. The board notes that these actions mark a significant leap forward in achieving the governor’s vision to transform New Jersey into a 100% clean energy state by 2050.
“In the span of just nine months, New Jersey has vaulted to the front of the pack in establishing this cutting-edge industry,” states Murphy. “We campaigned on rebuilding New Jersey’s reputation as a clean energy leader, and that involves setting an aggressive timetable on offshore wind. Thanks to the board, today we took another enormous step toward realizing that goal with the largest single-state solicitation of offshore wind in the country.”
The board’s action will allow developers seeking to build offshore wind facilities in federal waters to submit applications for approval. The application window begins on Sept. 20 and closes on Dec. 28. The board intends to act on the applications by July 1, 2019, which should provide sufficient time for developers to qualify for federal investment tax credits that expire at the end of next year, the NJBPU notes. These credits could save New Jersey ratepayers approximately 12% of the total project cost.
The NJBPU will also issue a guidance document to help developers calculate net economic benefits. It will also provide the formats to be used for submission of the information required under the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, as well as the evaluation criteria and the solicitation schedule.
Today’s order and guidance document followed a public input process. Additionally, as part of New Jersey’s offshore wind program, the NJBPU proposed a rule at its July meeting that would enact an Offshore Wind Energy Certificate (OREC) funding mechanism that establishes how an offshore wind project is funded and how revenues earned from the project would flow back to ratepayers. The OREC rule proposal was published in the New Jersey Register on Aug. 20, and public comments will be accepted until Oct. 19.
“Coming on the heels of Governor Murphy’s commitment to 3,500 MW of offshore wind solicitations by 2030, this opening of the application window for 1,100 MW truly invites offshore developers to start sharpening their pencils as they prepare their competitive bids for this new market,” says Liz Burdock, president and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “We have now moved from planning offshore wind to actually beginning the process of building it in the Atlantic Ocean.”