Statement on NJ BPU Selection of Offshore Transmission Projects

We, the undersigned organizations, on behalf of our members and supporters across New Jersey, applaud the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for taking historic action on transmission today to protect customers and advance the critical development of offshore wind to meet our climate targets. This unprecedented collaboration with the Pennsylvania-New Jersey-Maryland Interconnection (PJM), resulted in a cost-saving and environmentally responsible approach that will minimize impacts while providing the necessary infrastructure to deliver thousands of megawatts of planned and future renewable offshore wind energy to our existing grid, powering millions of homes throughout the state, and bring thousands of good jobs to our state. This decision establishes New Jersey as a national leader, coordinating with its grid operator to proactively plan and build the grid of the future, delivering on the promise of offshore wind. Although we will continue to advocate for an offshore backbone, we are heartened that the agency has acknowledged the need to explore those options and push for more coordination. We urge other states and regions, including New York and New England, and their grid operators, to quickly follow suit, particularly with the opportunities available from the Inflation Reduction Act.

At a time where our state, and nation, face intersecting and daunting challenges – from climate change and ongoing threats to our environment, to economic distress, to historic and continued injustices faced by communities of color – this process and the resulting investments will serve to advance social, environmental, and economic goals, including:
Promoting financial responsibility to ratepayersthrough cost savings, estimated at $900 million, and efficient practices that this approach allows for;
Greater environmental protection through a planned and coordinated approach to grid development that will limit onshore impacts and the potential for future action to limit offshore infrastructure;
Increasing capacity in the transmission system to allow for more renewables to come on line in the future, which will lead to the eventual phase-out of polluting fossil-powered plants that are disproportionately located in communities of color;
Signaling support of the offshore wind industrywhich will create good jobs for people who need them;

In order to achieve the benefits described above, we call on the state and developers to:
Ensure the most environmentally sensitive implementation is carried out, including the use of existing rights-of-way for land-based transmission projects;
Utilize high road labor standards, including Davis Bacon, prevailing wage, and Buy America to achieve lower costs by maximizing federal incentives and ensure the creation of quality jobs;
Support additional training and workforce development to increase the number of skilled workers able to implement these projects, particularly as federal funds will be supporting multiple infrastructure projects simultaneously; and
Work closely with community stakeholders to develop and negotiate measurable and enforceable Community Benefit Agreements that best meet the diverse needs of communities where transmission infrastructure projects will need to be sited, as well as locations where communities would benefit from local offshore wind supply chain manufacturing.
Continue to explore opportunities to advance a meshed network approach and better inter-regional coordination to further reduce costs and impacts and achieve better coordination with distribution system upgrades.

We look forward to continued communication with the state and the developers chosen to carry out these critical projects.

Quotes:
“RPA applauds the NJ BPU’s selection, as it is a critical step forward to ensure that clean power produced far off New Jersey’s coastline can effectively flow into our grid and power our homes and businesses, while directly addressing the cause of the climate crisis,” said Robert Freudenberg, VP for Energy and Environment at Regional Plan Association. “This trailblazing partnership between the state and the regional grid operator should be emulated throughout our region and beyond, and we look forward to additional steps forward to build out the grid of the future, on land and in the ocean.”

“Selection of onshore transmission projects is a critical step in making offshore wind energy a reality. Soon New Jerseyans will be able to benefit from the promise of offshore wind in mitigating the negative effects of fossil fuel projects on climate change and air pollution,” said Denise Brush, Issue Coordinator for Offshore Wind with the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“Today’s decision was bifurcated: doubling down on improving on-land transmission to expand future capacity for offshore wind, but pushing a decision on offshore transmission to the future. Today’s decision cements a historic selection to coordinate how we plan for the gigawatts of clean, renewable energy and then be able to hook them into our electric grid in the most efficient, environmentally friendly way possible,” said Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey. “New Jersey’s and the PJM regional electric grid will be changed forever with the influx of gigawatts of clean energy; we need to build transmission that looks to the future and creates a regional network to cement New Jersey’s national leadership role on offshore wind. This is a big day for NJBPU and PJM to bring us closer to making offshore wind a reality, and reducing climate pollutants.”

“It’s a big day for offshore wind goals and the good local jobs it will create. The BPU is moving forward with a critical part of New Jersey’s growing offshore wind industry, the infrastructure needed to bring clean, renewable electricity onshore,” said Ed Potosnak, Executive Director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “Today’s decision helps cement New Jersey as a leader in offshore wind and is designed to minimize impacts to the environment and consumers. We look forward to continuing to work with BPU to ensure that they can continue responsibly moving toward meeting our clean energy goals.”

“With today’s decision, we are another step closer to powering our homes with clean energy from off the coast of New Jersey. Building the infrastructure for offshore wind will create good, paying union jobs right here. Decisions like this today, will solidify New Jersey as a leader in offshore wind and signal to businesses that we’re all in so New Jersey can reap the economic benefits of this nascent industry,” said Debra Coyle, Executive Director, NJ Work Environment Council

“We applaud the BPU and congratulate the winners of today’s offshore wind transmission decision,” said Drew Tompkins, Director of the Jersey Renews Coalition. “The decision today continues New Jersey’s status as a leader in offshore wind and will facilitate our transition to the clean energy economy, which will combat climate change while providing thousands of good paying, often union jobs for our communities.”

“It will always be difficult for certain communities to worry about energy sources, when the sources of their daily pain are primarily a product of the powers that be,” said New Jersey Progressive Equitable Energy Coalition (NJPEEC) Chairman Marcus Sibley. “Now with the accessibility to scientific data illustrating the correlation between fossil fuels and a wide range of health impacts, more people are interested in sources such as offshore wind that can provide power without reducing their longevity. We applaud BPU today, but if not done equitably, many will still be left without power tomorrow.”

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