Despite the recent economic downturn, in the last two weeks both New Jersey and Rhode Island have chosen to move ahead with plans to construct offshore wind farms, announcing their selected energy developers. Only a few months ago, Delaware publicized a contract for a similar project. While these are strong indicators that the economic downturn is not halting investment in green energy along the eastern seaboard, the return on each state’s investment remains to be seen.
MarketWatch previously explained, “Winergy Power, with various names and related companies, have proposed projects in New Jersey (Garden State Offshore) and in Rhode Island (Deepwater Wind).”
*New Jersey selected Garden State Offshore Energy – a public/private venture between PSEG Renewable Energy and the wind energy developer Deepwater Wind of Hoboken. The project calls for the construction of 96 wind turbines. Projected costs run around $1 billion with Garden State Offshore Energy eligible for up to $19 million in state grants.
*Rhode Island is now in final negotiations with Deepwater Wind, which will not be offered any state funding.
*Delmarva, a regulated utility in Delaware will be working with Bluewater Wind. The two companies have finalized a power purchasing agreement in which the costs associated with the alternative source will be shared by Delmarva’s Delaware customers.
Each state is pushing to be the first with an offshore wind farm; all trumpet the promise of green jobs. According to Garden State Offshore Energy, “The foundations, turbines, and towers are planned to be assembled on land and will be transported to the wind farm site via large-scale barges. Assuming a suitable site can be found, turbine assembly and port facilities are expected to be located in New Jersey and create local green jobs.” At the same time, Governor Donald Carcieri of Rhode Island claims, “Deepwater Wind will help bring new economic activity, jobs, and opportunity to Rhode Island.” Bluewater Wind has pledged to make Delaware their hub for the mid-Atlantic. With businesses under the same parent company planning headquarters in different states, some justifiably question where the promised green industry will take root.
All three projects still face a number of hurdles before construction can begin including federal and local regulatory processes and permitting. Earlier plans for offshore wind farms in Texas and Massachusetts have progressed slowly, often mired in administrative battles, leaving each of these five states in a position to claim the nation’s first offshore wind farm. Yet, with over 760,000 jobs lost since the start of the year and widespread talk of an energy crisis, today’s economic hardships may ignite the political will necessary to move these projects forward.