N.J. regulators advance plans for 1,100-MW offshore wind solicitation

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities on Feb. 28 approved an order that will begin moving the state toward a solicitation of 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy capacity.

The order implements an executive order signed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy in late January directing the BPU to fully implement a piece of legislation signed into law by then-Gov. Chris Christie in 2010.

The executive order also called for New Jersey to begin the process of moving the state toward a goal of 3,500 MW of offshore wind energy generation by 2030.

In 2010, Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA), a piece of legislation allowing state agencies to craft an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) program. Murphy was sworn in as governor of New Jersey in January 2018.

“But despite OWEDA being signed eight years ago, gaps remain in the regulations for implementing the OREC program and offshore wind developers have not obtained the necessary approvals from the New Jersey BPU to move forward,” Murphy’s office said in a Jan. 31 news release.

Under the executive order, the BPU will implement the OREC program by approving financial plans submitted by offshore wind developers.

After the creation of a process to approve such plans, the BPU will issue a solicitation calling for proposed offshore wind projects. That solicitation will call for 1,100 MW of offshore wind.

BPU directs staff to take a number of actions

In the recent order it approved, the BPU directs staff to take a number of actions aimed at implementing the executive order.

BPU staff is being asked to establish an interagency Offshore Wind Task Force with the state Department of Environmental Protection and other applicable state agencies to develop a strategic plan to implement the executive order.

The BPU is also directing staff to initiate the rulemaking process to establish the funding mechanism for ORECs. As part of this process staff will consult with key stakeholders on the minimum requirements of the OREC funding mechanism in compliance with OWEDA and BPU rules, the BPU said.

BPU directs staff to prepare for 1,100 MW solicitation

The BPU also directed its staff to prepare for the solicitation of the initial 1,100-MW goal of offshore wind capacity. Staff will engage offshore wind developers and stakeholders in defining minimum requirements for the solicitation.

In addition, BPU staff will recommend to the BPU plans for a regional offshore wind energy roundtable to initiate discussions with other states in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region and other stakeholders such as Rate Counsel and the PJM Interconnection to explore the potential benefits of regional offshore wind collaboration.