Commercial-scale wind farm approved off New Jersey coast

The Ocean Wind 1 project is a major step toward President Biden’s goal of producing 30,000 megawatts from offshore wind turbines in coastal waters nationwide by 2030. It is located 13 nautical miles from Atlantic City.

Apart from the turbines, approval is sought for the construction of three offshore sub-stations through which the electricity generated by the floating turbines will be supplied to the leased area.

Elizabeth Klein, director of BOEM, called the approval “another significant step forward for the offshore wind industry in the United States.”

Liz Burdock, founder and CEO of the Business Network for Offshore Wind, which supports the project, said in a statement that workers in New Jersey and fabricators in Baltimore, Md., are beginning to make components for the turbines.

“Ocean Wind 1’s announcement of Record of Decision today represents a major change not only for Oerstedt, but for New Jersey’s nation-leading offshore wind industry,” said New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat. Mr. Murphy said.

The Biden administration has already approved a 62-turbine facility in Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., called Vineyard Wind. It also approved South Fork Wind, a 12-turbine project off the coast of Rhode Island that would provide electricity to Long Island, NY.

But there are obstacles. Landowners and fishing groups sued to stop the Vineyard wind project, arguing that the administration had not adequately studied the effects the wind farm might have on local fishermen or the North American right whale.

In New Jersey, three groups recently sued the state to try to stop the Ocean Wind 1 project, arguing that the wind turbines could harm marine life and violate New Jersey’s coastal management rules. Bruce Afron, an attorney representing Save Long Beach Island, Protect Our Coast NJ and Defend Brigantine Beach, said community activists intend to challenge Wednesday’s approval.

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In approving Ocean Wind 1, the Biden administration defended the project against environmental attacks and said the agency wanted to impose “comprehensive” measures to protect marine life, including sea turtles and Atlantic sturgeon.

Since January, 25 whales have stranded or died on the East Coast, sparking controversy. Opponents blame it on seismic surveys conducted for offshore wind projects. Scientists say there is no evidence of a link and suspect other factors, including climate change. Marine species are adapting to warming oceans by increasingly moving to new areas, including near shores that are more vulnerable to ship strikes and entanglement in fishing gear.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on its website that “there is no connection between recent large whale deaths and ongoing ocean air surveys.”

The federal approval is the last regulatory step for Ocean Wind 1, which will now begin construction. Orstedt said it would begin operations in late 2024 or early 2025.

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