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Paulsboro could benefit from leases for off-shore N.J. wind-energy projects

By: South Jersey Times |

A federal government announcement on Thursday regarding leases for wind power projects off the New Jersey coast could be good news for Paulsboro.

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Thursday proposed sale of leases for nearly 344,000 acres offshore New Jersey for commercial wind energy projects.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt says the leases could eventually generate enough electricity to power 1 million homes.

The leases would cover an area about seven miles off the coast of Atlantic City.

A 60-day public comment period will precede any leases.

The announcement by the feds may prove beneficial for the Port of Paulsboro, where a company could end up building components for wind turbines.

In 2013, representatives from the state government met with former governor Jim Florio and investors in a major wind energy project — Atlantic Wind Connection — at the Port of Paulsboro to discuss the possibility of the port becoming a construction site for wind energy converter platforms.

The project aims to put wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey and an electrical transmission cable — The New Jersey Energy Link — buried under the ocean linking wind energy sources throughout the state.

The port made news last week when it was announced that Holt Logistics Corp. and South Jersey Port Corp. would partner on construction of Paulsboro Marine Terminal.

The port has been vacant for more than a decade and the wind turbine news has been one of the few glimmers of hope for the site in recent years.

The Holt project comes with promises of hundreds of new jobs, though the wind project wasn’t mentioned during a Monday press conference on the new deal.

Advocates of wind energy in New Jersey saw a setback earlier this year when the state Board of Public Utilities rejected plans for another off-shore windfarm. The Fisherman’s Energy project would have placed five wind turbines off the South Jersey coast. The BPU determined the $188 million plan put too much risk on ratepayers.

Thursday’s announcement was praised by wind-energy supporters.

“This is great news that the federal government is moving forward on offshore wind leases off the coast of New Jersey. We applaud BOEM and its proposal to try to make wind a reality off of our coast. Offshore wind is the most reliable and coast effective ways to reduce electricity while lowering greenhouse gases,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “While BOEM and the rest of the country is moving forward with wind, Governor Christie continues to delays offshore wind projects in New Jersey. These delays have cost New Jersey jobs and clean energy. The governor is holding our clean energy economy hostage for his national political ambition.”