N.J. issues formal request for firms interested in wind farm leases off coast

The Christie Administration is issuing a formal request for firms interested in acquiring leases through the federal government for the construction of wind farms off the coast of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Bob Martin announced Tuesday.

“Development of clean wind power and solar energy is a key priority for Governor Chris Christie,” said Martin said in a release. “This is an important step toward the construction of wind farms off our coast and affirms New Jersey’s role as a national leader in the development of wind and solar energy that will provide needed jobs and economic growth.”

The request, known as a Call for Nominations, is issued through the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) and is the first step in the commercial renewable energy leasing process. The Call for Nominations will appear in the Federal Register to be published Wednesday.

Responses will assist the federal agency in determining interest in a proposed leasing area encompassing 418 square nautical miles off the coast between Barnegat Light and Avalon. This leasing area begins seven nautical miles off the shoreline and extends up to 23 nautical miles into the ocean, encompassing 43 entire federal leasing blocks and parts of 34 others, Martin said.

In 2009, BOEMRE issued Interim Policy leases to Deepwater Wind LLC, Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy LLC, and Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey LLC that authorize these companies to install and operate facilities to characterize wind and environmental resources. The Interim Policy leases do not authorize construction. BOEMRE is awaiting the submission of project plans from the applicants.

The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which the governor signed into law last year, authorizes creation of an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) program and makes available financial assistance and tax credits from existing programs for businesses that construct, manufacture, assemble and provide water access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects.

The OREC program calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to come from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects – or enough electricity for approximately one million homes.

The Call for Nominations is available through the Federal Register website: www.archives.gov/federal-register/public-inspection/index.html

N.J. issues formal request for firms interested in wind farm leases off coast