Ørsted May Be Forgotten, But Industrial Offshore Wind Is Not Gone - The Fisherman

Ørsted May Be Forgotten, But Industrial Offshore Wind Is Not Gone

While Ørsted may have startled the industrial offshore wind world in October by announcing they planned to pull the plug a pair of 1,100-megawatt wind projects off the South Jersey Coast, the Danish energy behemoth is not entirely gone.

In an article at NorthJersey.com earlier this year, reporter Katie Sobko noted how Ørsted acquired easement rights on property in Ocean City to implement underground utility lines for an onshore connection station from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) in 2022.  According to the NorthJersey.com report, the half-acre area was part of the Green Acres land conservation program and Cape May County tried to prevent the company’s easement efforts.

“Ørsted has until September 2025 to pay for the easement,” Sobko reported, noting how the company also has a 24-year lease for an underground utility cable at Island Beach State Park, for which it paid about $5.988 in October 2023.  Ørsted began its staging activities last October and apparently provided the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection a summary of the work they had done as of last November.

Sobko also reported how Ørsted had not requested termination of the lease. On February 29, the Bureau of Ocean and Energy Management (BOEM) approved a two-year suspension of the operations term of Ørsted’s Ocean Wind LLC commercial lease site off the Jersey Coast, however Ørsted is required to continue paying rent for those offshore lease areas.

According to State Senator Michael Testa of Vineland, the fact that there has been no effort by Ørsted to actually break the lease only means that the company has no plans to abandon their industrial offshore wind efforts.

“As I’ve said from early on, for those who are opponents, that they should not be doing a dance in the endzone just yet,” Testa told NorthJersey.com, adding “That this is merely the first chapter. The first battle in what I believe is a continuing process.”

Earlier this year, NJBPU approved more ratepayer subsidies going to a pair of projects by two developers — Attentive Energy, a subsidiary of TotalEnergies, and Leading Light Wind, a partnership of Invenergy and co-developer energyRe – which are slated to built approximately 40 miles from shore, one off the southern Ocean County coast and another somewhere east of Atlantic City.  According to NJBPU, the projects are both expected to add to ratepayer bills, nearly $7 a month for the average residential customer.

“Their long distances from the shore could help reduce opposition from coastal communities that don’t want wind turbines visible from their windows and beaches,” noted Politico’s Ry Rivard.  While industrial offshore wind opponents concerned only about the view may be happy, BOEM also acknowledged that industrial wind farms sited further than 30 miles from shore require additional equipment to effectively move this energy onshore in the form of massive substations.

According to BOEM, a high voltage direct current (HVDC) system is used to convert AC power to direct current (DC), which is capable of being transported longer distances without significant power losses. The conversion process from AC to HVDC generates heat as a byproduct, and the systems require cooling to protect the equipment from damage and breakdown.

“Cooling these systems using current technology requires open loop seawater systems,” BOEM said, adding “Potential effects from using the cooling systems include the discharge of heated water, use of chemicals, and trapping of fish larvae.”

Cape May Congressman Jeff Van Drew appeared on Fox News’ with Martha MacCallum following the NJBPU approval of the offshore wind projects in Monmouth and Ocean Counties and criticized Governor Phil Murphy and his administration for continually moving forward with these projects, despite widespread opposition.

“In all of my time in public service I have never seen projects as destructive for the state of New Jersey as these massive offshore wind farms,” said Rep. Van Drew, adding “Offshore wind hurts our supply chain, national defense operations, the environment, South Jersey’s fishing industry, shore communities’ tourism industry, and will cause energy rates to skyrocket.”

On March 5, New Jersey citizens action groups Defend Brigantine Beach and Downbeach, and Protect Our Coast New Jersey, filed notices of appeal in in the state Appellate Court, claiming that NJBPU violated its own state law which mandates that any increase in rates for offshore wind must be exceeded by economic and environmental benefits to the state.

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