New Jersey officials will commission studies into the environmental impact of offshore wind power projects
ByWAYNE PARRY Associated Press
March 16, 2022 at 6:12 PM
3 minutes read
ATLANTIC CIITY, N.J. – New Jersey officials will commission studies into the environmental effects of offshore wind energy projects. These studies will include animals as large or small as whales as well as clams.
This research addresses a major concern that has been raised by both opponents and supporters of the new industry. These studies aim to provide the baseline data necessary for assessments of ecological effects resulting from wind farms’ construction and operation.
Wednesday’s announcement from the Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Environmental Protection in the state stated that they will fund $3.4 million worth of projects to study the conditions of commercially valuable Clam Beds that will overlap wind turbine farms. Also, to study the topography of ocean floor including sunlight conditions and temperature.
The state will also join Connecticut, Maryland and Massachusetts in the Regional Wildlife Science Entity. This entity coordinates regional monitoring and research on wildlife that supports the advancement of offshore wind power development that is environmentally responsible and economically efficient.
The cost of the three initiatives is more than $3.4 million. The Offshore Wind Research & Monitoring Initiative is funded by the DEP and BPU. It was established using money donated from two of the most prominent offshore wind developers, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind II and Orsteds Ocean Wind II. According to the state estimates, the companies have contributed $26 million towards ecological research and monitoring offshore wind operations.
“As the stewards of our vibrant coast and ocean resources, my colleagues at the Department of Environmental Protection are dedicated to the continual pursuit of research and monitoring initiatives to help us ensure the responsible development of offshore winds facilities and their long-term operation,” said Shawn LaTourette.
Joseph Fiordaliso of the BPU stated that the research will include collecting crucial baseline data on whale movements along New Jersey’s coast.
The program will solicit proposals for passive acoustic monitoring projects to better understand the movements, behaviors, and endangered North Atlantic Right Whale in the waters off New Jersey’s coast.
This project is part of a larger effort that involves state, regional and federal entities to protect marine mammals from offshore wind farms being developed along the eastern coast.
Atlantic Shores lease area is located approximately 10 miles from the southern New Jersey coastline and has the potential for powering nearly 1 million homes. Orsteds Ocean Wind lease is located approximately 15 miles off of the southern New Jersey coastline and has the potential for powering almost half a millennium homes.
Opponents of offshore Wind often complain that there is not enough information about the environmental effects of the turbines or the buried underground electrical transmission cables.
New Jersey is rapidly emerging as a hub for the fast-growing offshore energy industry. Six companies bid $4.37billion for the right of building wind energy projects on New Jersey’s ocean floor. It was the largest such auction in American history.
This is in addition three offshore wind project already approved by New Jersey regulators.
The state stated that it will soon issue a request to proposals from entities interested in conducting the research.
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