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BPU president calls out wind power companies over delays

Press of Atlantic City|Bill Barlow|June 9, 2023
New JerseyOffshore Wind

While officials in some shore communities work to slow the planned development of offshore wind projects, the development companies came under sharp criticism last week from a different direction, and for a much different reason. In remarks at a meeting Wednesday, Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, accused wind energy developers of dragging their feet in moving the projects forward. He said time is not a luxury New Jersey can afford.


While officials in some shore communities work to slow the planned development of offshore wind projects, the development companies came under sharp criticism last week from a different direction, and for a much different reason.

In remarks at a meeting Wednesday, Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, accused wind energy developers of dragging their feet in moving the projects forward. He said time is not a luxury New Jersey can afford.

“Climate change doesn’t delay itself. Climate change continues to progress at a rate that is dangerous,” Fiordaliso said. “We cannot afford any more delays.”

In his remarks, Fiordaliso did not mention any of the wind power companies by name but said he hoped …

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While officials in some shore communities work to slow the planned development of offshore wind projects, the development companies came under sharp criticism last week from a different direction, and for a much different reason.

In remarks at a meeting Wednesday, Joseph Fiordaliso, president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, accused wind energy developers of dragging their feet in moving the projects forward. He said time is not a luxury New Jersey can afford.

“Climate change doesn’t delay itself. Climate change continues to progress at a rate that is dangerous,” Fiordaliso said. “We cannot afford any more delays.”

In his remarks, Fiordaliso did not mention any of the wind power companies by name but said he hoped representatives of at least one of the companies was listening and would bring word back to their superiors.

“Put your nose to the grindstone and let’s get this going again,” Fiordaliso said. “Because my patience is short and these delays are intolerable. And if you can’t do that, we’re going to have to have an intense discussion.”

He said he would not likely live to see the biggest impacts of climate change, but his grandchildren would, as would the children of other members of the BPU.

“We’re going to be judged on what we do here,” he said. “I will not tolerate additional delays by developers. Frankly, I’m sick and tired of it.”

Gov. Phil Murphy has pledged to move New Jersey’s energy systems to renewable sources and ween the state’s electrical grid from fossil fuels, a move he says will reduce the carbon emissions blamed for a steadily warming planet while creating new jobs.

At the federal level, the Biden administration has also backed the expansion of offshore wind as a major component of its energy policy, citing it as a potential way to cut carbon emissions in generating electricity.

But many in shore communities have remained skeptical of the proposal, citing its potential impact on tourism and the local fishing industry. Cape May County government vowed to fight the proposed projects, citing the potential for “devastating environmental and cultural impacts.”

Despite federal assurances that there is no evidence linking preparations for the projects to marine mammal deaths over the winter, many area residents remain convinced of a connection between the deaths and strandings and work mapping the ocean floor.

The Ocean Wind 1 project is the furthest along of the wind farm proposals off the coast of New Jersey. After the BPU meeting, Maddy Urbish, the head of government affairs and marketing for the energy company Ørsted, expressed surprise at the comments, saying the company has been working closely with the BPU and other state and federal agencies.

“Ørsted is committed to delivering Ocean Wind 1, New Jersey’s first offshore wind project,” she said in a statement. “In recent months, the project received its state permits and Federal Environmental Impact Statement, demonstrating significant progress towards onshore construction later this year. Ocean Wind 1 is already delivering local jobs and economic investments, including EEW’s monopile manufacturing facility at the Port of Paulsboro, construction of our Atlantic City O&M facility, and support for local minority and women-owned businesses through the Pro-NJ Grantor Trust.”

The company plans to begin delivering power from the project next year.

It was unclear what brought on the comments, which came after a closed-door session of the board, and after a decision to put off a vote on one of the resolutions, “In the matter of declaring transmission to support offshore wind a public policy of the state of New Jersey.”

Fiordaliso cited advice from BPU attorneys for the delay, saying the resolution had been challenged by the Division of Rate Counsel, which advocated for ratepayers in New Jersey.

There was no immediate response Friday to a call to a BPU spokesperson requesting more details. Documents posted to the BPU’s website indicate the resolution relates to the construction of the onshore projects, including transmission facilities, that will bring offshore wind power to homes and businesses.

But a recent letter from T. David Wand, the state’s deputy rate counsel, said the division did not have enough time to evaluate the decision before the meeting.

“Rate Counsel did not learn of the matter until it was posted on the agenda. Rate Counsel still has no idea what ‘project scope modifications’ the board will be considering, or the rate impact of those changes,” reads a letter submitted to the board before last week’s meeting.

Fiordaliso commented on several matters after the closed session, but before the start of the BPU board meeting.

He also addressed wind power opponents, saying the turbines will be miles from the beach and that someone would need excellent eyesight to see them. Drawings presented by Ocean Wind 1 at public meetings have shown that the wind turbines would be visible on the horizon from the beaches of Ocean City on clear days, and Cape May County officials say the project would be visible from every beach community in the county.

“We know that there are people who don’t agree with our initiatives, but the majority of people agree with the fact that we have to continue to mitigate the effects of climate change,” Fiordaliso said. “We have to get moving.”


Source:https://pressofatlanticcity.c…

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