A support vessel is seen next to a massive wind turbine at the Walney Extension offshore wind farm operated by the Orsted energy company off Britain’s west coast on Sept. 5, 2022.

June 16, 2023

Oped By Assemblywoman Carol Murphy,  first published in New Jersey Globe

As New Jersey works towards meeting Governor Murphy’s renewable energy goals, legislators should keep in mind the opportunity cost of postponing the offshore wind turbine development project already underway off our coast.  

Baseless disinformation campaigns from dark money groups and propped-up politicians shouldn’t stand in the way of an economic boon for the state of New Jersey. Being tied to President Biden’s National Offshore Wind agreement means the people of New Jersey will undoubtedly reap the benefits of its subsequent tax credits and programs. Moreover, the three proposed offshore wind farm projects are estimated to inject $4.7 billion into New Jersey’s economy and create over 10,000 jobs – including thousands of construction union jobs.  

In fact, Orsted, the company charged with spearheading the project, has committed nationally to ensuring their projects are covered by a project labor agreement. This agreement includes a commitment to apprenticeship programs with a pointed interest in providing opportunities for women, communities of color, and the formerly incarcerated. “It’s a union agreement that’s going to lift additional people up and maintain tens of thousands of families in the middle class,” said President of North America’s Building Trades Unions Sean McGarvey.  

This project also puts money into preserving, researching, and improving New Jersey’s marine ecology, with a nearly $26.6 million investment by developers in a “Research and Monitoring Initiative” that will include both ocean research initiatives and wildlife and fishery monitoring in the region. The investment, overseen by a steering committee made up of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Board of Public Utilities, will specifically be “dedicated to the performance of research and monitoring initiatives concerning the conditions of and potential impacts upon natural and aquatic resources, including wildlife and fisheries that may be implicated by the introduction of offshore wind generating capacity in the Atlantic Ocean.” 

As a South Jersey lawmaker, I must underscore that this is a critical once-in-a-generation opportunity for our region to propel forward by becoming a national leader in the development of offshore wind. The synergy of economic benefits in South Jersey and enhancing our path toward achieving renewable energy goals is a true win-win that we must embrace.  

Not only will this project boost our state’s economy and local environment, developing offshore wind farms in New Jersey will help us continue pioneering the path to 100% clean power by 2035 by providing 7,500 megawatts of renewable energy. These three wind farms alone will produce enough energy to power more than a third of homes in the state, a huge stepping stone towards securing the governor’s goal of 11 GW of offshore wind energy by 2040 – which could power 3.2 million homes with renewable energy. 

The development of offshore wind farms is an investment in the Garden State, its constituents, and our collective future. Caving to outside influences with hidden agendas is simply not in our best interest. It’s time to put the politics aside and put the people of New Jersey first.