Ocean County, NJ — Recently boaters have reported seeing the research vessel Neptune traveling back and forth offshore of Long Beach Island and called The SandPaper to find out what it was doing; the U.S. Coast Guard from Barnegat Light had no statements concerning the vessel. On further investigation, the boat is operated by EGS International out of the U.K. and working for Ørsted, the Danish Energy Company developing Ocean Wind off Atlantic City. A warning to mariners was found on the Ørsted Ocean Wind website that stated Ørsted will be performing survey operations along cable routes and within the lease area through 2020.
“During those times, all mariners transiting or fishing in the survey area are requested to provide a wide berth to survey vessels as they will be limited in their ability to maneuver (VRAM) and towing gear out to 300 meters behind the vessel. Vessels in the vicinity of the survey vessel should operate in a manner that will not endanger the vessel or associated equipment.”
Ørsted’s public relations company, Thomas Boyd Communications, answered our inquiry with this statement: “As part of our site investigation surveys, the research vessel, MV Neptune is undertaking a geophysical survey for our potential interconnection point, which is how the power generated by the wind farm will get onshore to the electrical grid. This work will continue until March 2020. While we have not announced our final interconnection site, we have been exploring multiple sites across Southern New Jersey, including Oyster Creek. We did announce back in September that we had acquired capacity interconnection rights, known as CIRs (from the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities) for our Ocean Wind project for intended use at Oyster Creek. We expect to finalize our interconnection plans, along with our visual impact simulations and other pertinent project details at a later date.”
Ørsted is the Danish energy company that with PSEG plans to build the largest array of wind turbines in the U.S. 15 miles off the Atlantic City coast. They plan between 85 and 100 rotating turbines with blades as long as a football field. In 2016 the company purchased a federal offshore lease on the continental shelf from RES America after that company won the bid two months earlier for lease number OCSA0498. The lease is for 160,480 acres on the continental shelf off Atlantic and Cape May counties. RES purchased it for $880,715 from BOEM.
Ørsted, with PSEG, intends to generate 1,100 megawatts of wind power, enough to supply half a million homes with “green” electricity.
Ørsted plans to bring the submarine cables from the offshore substation to an interconnection facility and then to an existing electrical substation. There are three options it apparently is still considering: the substation connected with the de-commissioned Oyster Creek nuclear facility in Lacey Township, the de-commissioned Beesley’s Point generating station formerly run by BL England, or the Higbee/Ontario substation in Atlantic City.
The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management under the Department of the Interior is the permitting agency for Ørsted and has received approval for its site assessment plan. A site assessment plan describes the activities (installation of meteorological towers and buoys) for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area. The BOEM will be conducting the environmental impacts statements.
The New Jersey Wind Energy Area starts about 7 nautical miles offshore and extends roughly 21 nautical miles seaward. To see a map of the New Jersey Wind Energy Area, go to boem.gov.
New Jersey’s offshore wind energy plan started under Gov. Chris Christie when he initiated the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, but it really took off under Gov. Phil Murphy, who instructed the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities to create an Offshore Renewable Energy Credit system as required by the act. In June of last year, the BPU chose Ørsted to be the first offshore wind company to receive permission to participate in the OREC system.
Costs of building a transmission system rely on many factors still to be decided, but according to a September article in S&P Global Market Intelligence:
Ocean Wind will pay for the first $10 million of any upgrades. If costs are between $10 million and $130 million, Ocean Wind will pay 70 percent of costs, with the remainder recovered from ratepayers. Should costs run between $130 million and $174 million, Ocean Wind will pay 50 percent, with the other half recovered from ratepayers. For costs above $174 million, 100 percent will be recovered from ratepayers.
Ocean Wind is to give the board the final costs of upgrading the transmission system within two days of getting them (New Jersey BPU Docket No. QO18121289).
Rumors that wind farms might spring up off LBI were dispelled by a representative from BOEM.
“BOEM does not have a formal schedule for future leasing. We are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the success of offshore activities. Our renewable energy leasing process ensures that stakeholder issues are addressed to the greatest extent practicable.”
One area that is hot right now is the New York Bight off the Hudson River and Long Island.
“BOEM anticipates leasing additional areas in the New York Bight over time, pending completion of the Area Identification process. BOEM refers to such areas as ‘Wind Energy Areas (WEAs).’ These areas appear to be most suitable for commercial wind energy activities, while presenting the fewest apparent environmental and user conflicts.”
— Pat Johnson