Trenton — As part of Gov. Phil Murphy’s goal of reaching 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind generation by 2035, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection will lead a newly established working group of fishing and conservation groups to provide guidance to the state’s approach to achieving its offshore wind goals. The New Jersey Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group – which will draw representatives from commercial and recreational fishing industries, conservation organizations, maritime industry and fisheries councils – will ensure interested parties can assist in shaping the offshore wind strategy and implementation. Representatives from state and federal governments will serve in an ex officio capacity.
“Offshore wind development is critical to achieving our statewide goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050, and it is important that all interested parties have a voice in that process,” said NJDEP Commissioner Catherine R. McCabe. “By working together with the fishing industry and conservation community in reaching this goal, we can effectively combat the harmful effects of sea level rise and climate change while preserving critical aspects of our economy and natural resources.”
As N.J. Economic Development Authority Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan noted, “Growing New Jersey’s offshore wind economy is a rare opportunity to protect our environment while also fostering long-term, equitable economic growth and job creation. The Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group is a critical initiative that will ensure local communities and stakeholders have their voices heard throughout this process.”
The group has five objectives: enhancing communication and coordination between fishing and conservation communities and state and federal agencies; providing a platform for the fishing and conservation communities to have meaningful input to assist the state with its decision making as New Jersey moves forward with its clean energy goals; sharing existing data, research and information sources with fishing and environmental groups; providing information on current uses of proposed offshore wind areas in order to allow DEP and other agencies to better address, and potentially mitigate, any potential conflicts; supporting scientific and technical research at state and regional levels to address issues related to offshore wind energy project planning, siting, construction, operation and monitoring.
Information about Working Group meetings will be published on the DEP’s website.
Murphy’s Executive Order No. 8, issued in January 2018, directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to fully implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act and established the 3,500-megawatt goal. Last June, the Board of Public Utilities awarded the first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy generation.
In August 2019, the governor signed Executive Order No. 79, establishing the Council for the Wind Innovation and New Development Institute, which will develop and implement a regional clearinghouse for education, research, innovation and workforce training on offshore wind energy for New Jersey and the northeastern United States.
And earlier this month, Murphy signed Executive Order No. 92, which expanded the state’s offshore wind goal to 7,500 megawatts by 2035.
To learn more about New Jersey’s clean energy efforts including offshore wind energy, visit nj.gov/dep/aqes/opea-clean-energy.html.
— Juliet Kaszas-Hoch