NJ Offshore 2.0 forum gets down to business

By: Bill O’Hearn

ReThink Energy, a New Jersey environmental group that focuses on promoting clean energy and the newest member of the Network, followed up their sponsorship of the NJ Offshore 2.0! forum by releasing a new poll conducted by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind™ that showed almost three quarters of New Jerseyans (73%) support offshore wind.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed also believe renewable energy is important to the overall health of New Jersey, and nearly 75% are willing to pay $5 to $10 more per month on their energy bills for energy generated from solar and wind. And, approximately four of five (78%) New Jerseyans favor a goal of 80% renewable energy in New Jersey by 2050.

“The timing of this poll couldn’t be better,” said the Liz Burdock, Executive Director for the Business Network for Offshore Wind. “We are delighted to have ReThink Energy join the Network, and this survey confirms the state’s commitment to clean energy just in time for the fall’s political campaigns to address this key issue.”

She also thanked ReThink Energy for sponsoring the conference, and for having the vision to understand that environmental groups and the offshore wind industry need to work together in order to achieve our emissions-reduction goals.

On Monday, September 18, the Business Network for Offshore Wind (the Network) kicked off NYC Climate Week by hosting a breakfast forum at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, NJ, right across the Hudson River from midtown Manhattan.

“We called this forum “NJ Offshore 2.0!,” said Network Executive Liz Burdock, “because we want the New Jersey business and environmental communities to know that their state is getting back into the offshore wind energy business after 8 years of standing on the sidelines.”

The conference’s four presentations focused on the business side of the offshore wind energy industry before a diverse audience of labor leaders, environmentalists, government officials and technical experts. After a welcome from the Network’s Board Chair, Kevin Pearce of Siemens, Liz Burdock opened the session with a brief history of offshore wind in the U.S., some trends in the market, and current projects under way on the East Coast.

Jim Bennett, Renewable Energy Program Manager for the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) then led a detailed description of the steps required to complete the Renewable Energy Authorization Process, including the environmental reviews and approvals required before starting construction. Jim made some news by telling the room that BOEM sees no problems with staff or funding cuts slowing down the agency’s approval timelines.

Atlantic Wind Connection’s President Markian Melnyk covered the important issue of connecting offshore wind to the grid, and showed how an offshore, underwater grid could help deliver offshore electricity to New Jersey cities when and where they need it.

Elizabeth Treseder, the Senior Regulatory Manager for North America for DONG Energy, then closed the session by outlining the plans for their Ocean Wind project in New Jersey, a wind energy area located about 10 miles off of Atlantic City. Ocean Wind when built will provide enough clean electricity to power more than 500,000 homes. She also touched on the dramatic cost reductions recently seen in offshore projects in Europe, which will make U.S. wind farms more affordable for American ratepayers.

“Our successful conference and this new poll prove that this is just the beginning of an exciting time for offshore wind in New Jersey,” said Burdock, “and we expect to see rapid progress as a new state administration takes over in January.”

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