New Jersey’s Atlantic Shores offshore wind farm gets Interior Department approval: ‘Our clean energy future is now a reality’

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The U.S. Interior Department approved the proposed Atlantic Shores offshore wind farm in New Jersey on Tuesday, giving a major boost to a project that would be the state’s first.

The project still requires an additional federal approval of its construction and operations plan, along with two state-level permits, before construction can begin.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said the department’s decision marked the ninth offshore wind project approved under the Biden administration, green-lighting 13 gigawatts of electricity, enough to power 5 million homes.

“The Biden-Harris administration is building momentum every day for our clean energy future, and today’s milestone is yet another step toward our ambitious goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore energy by 2030,” she said in a statement. “Our clean energy future is now a reality. We are addressing climate change, fostering job growth, and promoting equitable economic opportunities for all communities.”

The project, consisting of two phases, would be built between Atlantic City and Long Beach Island in southern New Jersey. It would generate 2,800 megawatts, enough to power 1 million homes.

“This milestone brings us one step closer to delivering New Jersey’s first offshore wind projects, and for the state achieving its ambitious goal of 100% clean energy by 2035,” Joris Veldhoven, Atlantic Shores’ CEO, said in a statement. “We recognize the significance of this milestone, and we’re thrilled to work with our supply chain partners to continue making near-term investments and creating great paying union jobs.”

Opponents of offshore wind are well organized and vocal in New Jersey, and one of several groups against the plan, Protect Our Coast-NJ, said the federal and state governments “are forging ahead like a bull in a China shop, hurting overburdened communities and our incredible ocean with unwanted industrial construction projects.”

“Offshore wind construction and operations disrupts wildlife and ecosystems, and threatens the livelihoods of commercial fishermen and small businesses up and down the East coast,” the group said in a statement.

Atlantic Shores, which was given preliminary approval in 2021 by New Jersey utility regulators, has now gotten nearly as far as a previously approved project that would have been New Jersey’s first offshore wind farm. Danish wind developer Orsted was close to beginning work on two offshore wind farms but scrapped the project in Oct. 2023 after deciding it would not be economical.

Many of the state’s major environmental groups issued statements praising Atlantic Shores’ approval, saying it proves that offshore wind has regained its footing in New Jersey after the Orsted setback.

“The Biden administration’s approval of the Atlantic Shores project is good for our climate, our public health, our workers, and our wallets,” said Anjuli Busot-Ramos, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We are proud to see New Jersey move towards renewable energy and offshore wind development, and away from dirty fossil fuels.”

Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, added: “On the cusp of a historic heat wave, there is no better week for the federal government to give a green light to the Atlantic Shores offshore wind project. Every year without offshore wind providing power to our electric grid is another year we are overly dependent on fossil fuels to power our electric grid.”

The Interior Department said the project would be about 8.7 miles from shore at its closest point. But the company has previously said that it will not built right up to that line and that the closest turbines will be at least 12.8 miles from shore.

Atlantic Shores is a joint partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF-RE Offshore Development LLC.

The Interior Department approved construction of 195 wind turbines as part of the project; the company had sought up to 200.

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