July 13, 2021 By Ramona du Houx Climate change is real, just ask anyone who lives on the coast. Coastal erosion is a constant threat. Hurricanes devastate the region. Without immediate action, much of New Jersey’s current coastline will be lost under a projected 8 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, along with the homes and livelihoods […]
Climate change is real, just ask anyone who lives on the coast. Coastal erosion is a constant threat. Hurricanes devastate the region. Without immediate action, much of New Jersey’s current coastline will be lost under a projected 8 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century, along with the homes and livelihoods of hundreds of thousands. The mental anguish would be horrifying. The financial losses of up to $180 billion, or the equivalent of three Superstorm Sandys, would be catastrophic.
Responsible offshore wind development can mitigate this human and economic catastrophe while generating new opportunities for growth. It has the potential to meet 90 percent of total U.S. energy demand by 2050. For New Jersey, the average wind farm being considered is projected to create 4,300 skilled, well-paying jobs and add $702 million to the economy.
On July 13, 2021 they held a press conference. The full recording is below:
“This dynamic clean, renewable energy sector will revitalize New Jersey’s economy with thousands of skilled jobs while helping to prevent some of the most devastating effects of the climate crisis. Offshore wind energy is key to a prosperous healthy future,” said Christopher Douglass, EOPA New Jersey Coordinator. “EOPA New Jersey calls on elected officials from across the state to join over 110 others by signing our letter of support.”
The Atlantic seaboard could produce more than four times New Jersey’s current energy demand. With strong, consistent offshore wind and a wide, shallow continental shelf economical deployment of offshore wind off New Jersey’s coast is ideal using existing technology. It’s potential has been recognized by Governor Phil Murphy with his commitment to increase the state’s offshore wind capacity to 7,500 MW by 2035, which would meet his mandate to generate half the state’s electricity from renewable sources.
Routine flooding near Atlantic City has increased from less than once a year between 1950 and 1960 to about eight times a year between 2007 and 2019.
“Climate change is undeniable for anyone who lives in a coastal community. But I’m hopeful because Governor Murphy is taking action to mitigate the problem, and thousands of green energy skilled jobs will be created,” said Atlantic County Commissioner Caren Fitzpatrick, EOPA New Jersey Leadership Council. “We are coming back from the pandemic by pursuing a more diverse economy. Our clean energy economy with offshore wind development is at the forefront. Alone, it could supply92 percent of all our electricity needs. Add solar and land wind power to the mix and we could eliminate our dependency on fossil fuels for electricity, meet the state goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and sharply reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.”
The country’s largest permitted project is Ocean Wind, 15 miles off Atlantic City, and will be barely visible. It will produce 1,100-megawatts when operational in 2024 and spur thousands of highly skilled jobs. Ocean Wind is projected to reduce carbon emissions by 2.2 million tons annually — the equivalent of taking 400,000 cars off the road — and provide a reliable and scalable source of energy, immune to supply shortages and price shocks.
“While offshore wind represents an unparalleled renewable energy opportunity that will generate thousands of jobs, and improve health outcomes, we need to ensure its economic benefits are shared equitably. Frontline communities and especially communities of color must be included in the manufacturing, development, and generation of offshore wind power,” said Atlantic City Councilmember Kaleem Shabazz. “The International Energy Agency recently warned that governments must transition to alternative clean energy sources in order to avert the most catastrophic effects of the climate crisis. Offshore wind offers New Jersey a key solution.”
Support for offshore wind development is growing rapidly. A wide majority, 82 percent, of New Jersey voters favor expanding wind energy, and nearly three-quarters, 73 percent, believe that offshore wind will impact our environment in a positive way.
On June 30, The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities Board voted unanimously to award 1,510 MW of capacity to Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and 1,148MW to Ocean Wind II — creating the nation’s largest combined offshore wind development award to date. The new facilities will bring the state’s total planned capacity to over 3,700 MW.
“I’m heartened that we are well along the way of meeting the state’s renewable energy goals with the build-out of offshore wind,“ said Seaside Heights Board Member Mary Sharon Quilter. “Coastal erosion is a constant threat. If you don’t live in a coastal community it’s hard to imagine the devastation the smallest of storms can inflict, let alone superstorms like Sandy. Locally, in the Ortley Beach section of Toms River three dozen people died. Over 600,000 housing units were destroyed in New York and New Jersey. The financial cost is topping $19 billion. Too many still don’t have a home, and we’re coming up to Sandy’s 9th anniversary. While taking action to harness the power of the wind is a major step towards mitigating the problem, and growing needed jobs, there is more we can, and should do, to help the victims of climate change.”
According to the Workforce Development Institute, 74 different occupations are needed to build an offshore wind farm. The career opportunities range from data scientists, welders, accountants, safety technicians all the way up to marine biologists, engineers, and will generate thousands of additional jobs in construction, manufacturing, turbine demonstration, and transmission line projects.
“While we emerge from the pandemic, better opportunities for higher paying jobs and training in new professions are a must. Our people need us to do more than return to ‘normal.’ In Jersey City we need a job creator like offshore wind that could power skilled employment with training in the various professions the industry needs,” said Jersey City Councilmember Mira Prinz-Arey.
The Business Network for Offshore Wind includes more than 50 partners including local businesses, frontline community organizations, labor unions, and environmental groups. Some 490 companies have already joined a registry established by the Business Network for Offshore Wind and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority.