Legislation To Greenlight Offshore Wind Transmission Lines Via NJBPU Petition Passes NJ Senate & Assembly
Trenton – Legislation to greenlight offshore wind projects to construct transmission interconnection lines through a petition process to NJBPU that would supersede local restrictions passed by healthy margins through the Legislature today. The State Senate passed S3926 by a 25-13-2 margin and the General Assembly passed A5894 by a 49-26-5 margin. The legislation was prime-sponsored by Senate President Sweeney, Senator Bob Smith and Asm. John Burzichelli, Asm. Jim Kenney and Asm. Robert Karabinchak. The bill’s intent is to stand up offshore wind along the timelines set out within the solicitation schedule set out by the NJBPU and Governor Murphy.
The legislation is crafted to create an option for the NJBPU to have the authority to supersede local permitting for right-of-way transmission construction for authorized offshore wind projects if it receives a petition. This is described as a last option to petition directly to the NJBPU but there would still be an intervenor process and it would give the NBPU the ability to review a transmission proposal and ultimately approve or deny the petition.
New industry or major construction project is bound to face challenges and unexpected obstacles. Some of these disruptions are causing permitting and construction planning delays to New Jersey’s first offshore wind project, Ocean Wind 1. This bill creates a process that enables developers to ask the NJDEP and NJBPU to intervene when needed to ensure natural resources and citizens are being protected while offshore wind projects are developed on schedule.
Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey and a long-time offshore wind advocate, released the following statement:
“The bill in the short term will provide an ability to move forward with the Ocean Wind 1 project, but in the long run will help all offshore wind developers as more offshore wind solicitation awards are made by the NJBPU. This legislation sends a message that New Jersey is serious about meeting its renewable energy mandates and making New Jersey the offshore wind hub for the East Coast.
Offshore wind produces a clear and critical environmental and climate benefit – there’s no way for the state to reach its renewable portfolio standard of 50% clean, renewable energy by 2030 without the rapid deployment of offshore wind. We shouldn’t allow home rule decision-making or even the threat of home-rule decision-making to potentially permanently stymie the ability for the state to move forward on offshore wind permitting decisions.
We also strongly support the recent inclusion of language to increase the compensation for disturbed Green Acres lands to three times their assessed value, a stronger and more robust public hearing process and a clear requirement that offshore wind transmission interconnection projects need to go underground when disturbing preserved open space except where it is considered to be technically unfeasible.
It is notable that the use of any Green Acres property for interconnection transmission – even for offshore wind – was obviously not the intent of the program. This should be considered truly as a final option. The intent to focus on restoring Green Acres property after a disturbance from any underground transmission wires, as well as the now triple compensation of the net value of the disturbed property elsewhere with the Cape May County region should be considered as a minimal bar to show that Green Acres protection should be remain paramount and any disturbance would need to be fully remediated and compensated three times over.”
Environment New Jersey is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We work to protect the places we love, advance the environmental values we share, and win real results for our environment. For more information, visit www.environmentnewjersey.org