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Feds Release Draft EIS for Proposed Wind Project Off New Jersey Coast

June 22, 2022 by Dan McCue

WASHINGTON — The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement for a proposed 1,100 MW offshore wind energy project in waters off the coast of New Jersey.

The agency will publish a notice of availability of the Draft EIS on Friday, which will start a 45-day public comment period closing on Aug. 8.

If it receives final approval, the Ocean Wind 1 project would be the first offshore wind project located off the New Jersey coast. 

Ocean Wind is proposing the construction of up to 98 wind turbine generators and up to three offshore substations within the lease area, located 14 statute miles southeast of Atlantic City, with export cables making landfall in Ocean County and Cape May County in New Jersey.

If all 98 wind turbine generators are approved for installation, the wind farms capacity will fall within a range of 1,215 to 1,440 MW — enough power to provide electricity to as many as 504,000 homes per year.

At the same time, according to its developers, the project could generate as much as $1.17 billion in economic benefits for the state and create thousands of jobs over the life of the project.

Not surprisingly, N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy was among those who greeted the release of the Draft EIS warmly, saying it brought his state “one step closer to bringing its vision for a more sustainable future to fruition.

“The multi-faced impact of Ocean Wind 1 cannot be overstated, “ Murphy said in a written statement released by his office.

“In addition to spurring economic growth and generating new jobs, the project will help us accomplish significant greenhouse gas reductions, upon which the future of our state depends,” he continued. “Alongside our private and federal partners, we are determined to ensure that the project achieves its optimal potential while mitigating its impacts on our beautiful state’s natural ecosystems.”

Officials with the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection have already begun their review of the Draft EIS, making sure it comports with their analysis on the project’s potential impacts on natural, historic and cultural resources.

State DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette said in a written statement “the responsible development of offshore wind is a critical component of New Jersey’s future energy portfolio to lessen the impacts of climate change.”

But LaTourette also assured New Jersey residents that his department will continue to work with federal regulators and the project’s developers to ensure any and all necessary mitigation measures are taken.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s environmental review process will conclude with the Final EIS, which is anticipated in March 2023, and the Record of Decision in April 2023. 

“BOEM remains committed to an environmental review process that establishes a strong foundation for offshore wind projects in the U.S. while promoting ocean co-use and avoiding or reducing potential conflicts,” said Amanda Lefton, the agency’s director. “The feedback provided by ocean users and our many stakeholders will help inform the Final EIS and provide invaluable insight to decision makers.”

During the comment period, BOEM will hold three virtual public meetings, where the public can learn more about: the review process, the EIS schedule, potential impacts from the proposed project, and proposals to reduce potential impacts. There will also be an opportunity for participants to provide comments on the DEIS.

The public meetings will be held on the following dates and times:

  • Thursday, July 14, 2022; 1:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, July 20, 2022; 5:00 p.m.
  • Tuesday, July 26, 2022; 5:00 p.m.

Registration for the virtual meetings is encouraged.

A virtual meeting room, information about how to register for the virtual meetings and instructions for how to submit comments will be published on BOEM’s website on Friday at: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/ocean-wind-1.

The virtual meeting room will be available throughout the 45-day comment period and will include a copy of the DEIS, fact sheets, posters, and pre-recorded presentations.

Those who require a paper copy of the DEIS or public meeting materials, or require call-in information for the virtual meetings (for those without reliable internet access), are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management at boempublicaffairs@boem.gov.

Dan can be reached at dan@thewellnews.com and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue.

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