October 9, 2008 By Elaine Rundle
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities chose a developer this month to construct an offshore wind farm using turbine technology that would produce enough electricity to power approximately 125,000 houses annually.
The board announced on Oct. 3, 2008, that Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture of PSEG Renewable Generation and Deepwater Wind, was awarded a $4 million grant to build the 345.6-megawatt wind farm.
According to a press release, five applicants responded to the October 2007 solicitation, including: Bluewater Wind, Fisherman's Energy of New Jersey LLC, Occidental Development & Equities LLC and Environmental Technologies LLC.
One of the major concerns of a nearby beach community has been what the wind farm will look like from land, but according to the company's proposal, the 96 wind turbines will be located 16 to 20 miles off of the coast of Cape May and Atlantic counties. The distance makes the turbines barely visible from shore, but begs questions about the difficulty of installation. According to Garden State Offshore Energy's Web site, the foundations, turbines and towers will be assembled on land and transported to sea on large barges.
At the earliest, construction will begin in 2010 after an ecological baseline study, conducted by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and permitting are completed. "I think they're maybe about six months into a year-and-a-half- long study that is basically looking to see what impacts offshore wind farms might have on marine mammals and birds and other types of sea life," said Karen Hershey, spokeswoman of the DEP. "And it involves aerial surveying as well as research from several vessels."
The New Jersey Energy Master Plan calls for 20 percent of the state's energy to come from natural resources by 2020, and the project is expected to be operational by 2013.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind energy is one of the lowest-priced renewable energy technologies available.