Danish multinational energy corporation Ørsted announced Tuesday night that it is halting development of its Ocean Wind projects in the waters off New Jersey, citing economic setbacks within the state.
In a statement to its website on the night of Oct. 31, Ørsted said that it would be ceasing production of the turbines off the Jersey Shore as a result of several “macroeconomic” complications.
“Ørsted has decided to cease the development of Ocean Wind 1 and 2,” said the company in its statement. The Ocean Wind 1 project would have been located about 15 miles off the shore of Atlantic City, and the Ocean Wind 2 farm would have been adjacent to it.
“The projects have experienced significant impacts from macroeconomic factors, including high inflation, rising interest rates and supply chain constraints, particularly a vessel delay on Ocean Wind 1 that considerably impacted project timing. The company intends to retain the seabed lease area and consider the best options as part of the ongoing portfolio review.”
“I want to thank Governor Murphy and New Jersey state and local leaders who helped support these projects and continue to lead the region in developing American renewable energy and jobs,” said David Hardy, Ørsted’s Americas chief executive officer.
But in a statement issued Wednesday, Gov. Phil Murphy condemned the company’s decision to back out of the project, saying the move “calls into question [Ørsted’s] credibility and competence.”
“As recently as several weeks ago, the company made public statements regarding the viability and progress of the Ocean Wind 1 project,” the governor said. “In recognition of the challenges inherent in large and complex projects, my Administration in partnership with legislative leadership insisted upon important protections that ensure New Jersey will receive $300 million to support the offshore wind sector should Ørsted’s New Jersey projects fail to proceed.”
Gov. Murphy also said that his administration is now considering legal opposition to Ørsted’s decision in order to compel the company to push forward with the projects.
“I have directed my Administration to review all legal rights and remedies and to take all necessary steps to ensure that Ørsted fully and immediately honors its obligations,” he said. “…while today is a setback, the future of offshore wind in New Jersey remains strong.”
While Ørsted will ostensibly not be proceeding with its Ocean Wind projects, Gov. Murphy stated that there is a “historically high” number of bids for New Jersey’s burgeoning offshore wind program and that the sector would continue to expand in the state regardless of the company’s decision.
“In recent weeks we’ve seen a historically high number of bids into New Jersey’s ongoing third offshore wind solicitation,” said the governor, “and the Board of Public Utilities will shortly announce two additional solicitations related to our first-in-the-nation State Agreement Approach to build an offshore wind transmission infrastructure.”
In its Tuesday night statement, Ørsted also announced that the Revolution Wind project off the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island would move forward.
Local groups opposing the development of offshore wind in the state have been vocal recently about energy companies—Ørsted in particular—and their bids to set up turbines off the coast of Ocean and Atlantic counties.
In April, the Monmouth County Board of Commissioners held a press conference alongside U.S. Representative Chris Smith when they called for a halt to offshore wind development and investigations into cetacean [whale and dolphin] strandings.
“[M]y fellow Commissioners and I passed a resolution calling for an immediate investigation of offshore projects and marine animal deaths along the New Jersey coastline,” said Commissioner Director Thomas Arnone in a press release dated April 4.
Additionally, 30 coastal town mayors—Democratic and Republican—signed onto a letter in early 2023 opposing the offshore development in New Jersey.
Republican mayors who signed the letter include Avon-By-The-Sea Mayor Ed Bonanno, Brielle Mayor Thomas Nicol, Sea Girt Mayor Donald Fetzer, Mantoloking Mayor Lance White, Bay Head Mayor William Curtis, Point Pleasant Borough Mayor Robert Sabosik and Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra.
Democratic signatories included Spring Lake Mayor Jennifer Naughton and former Brick Township Mayor John Ducey.
A recent anti-wind turbine rally held on Jenkinson’s Boardwalk in Point Pleasant Beach was attended by hundreds of supporters, including U.S. Rep. Chris Smith [R-4] and several coastal mayors. Prominent in the speeches were as-yet unproven claims that the sonar mapping used to stake out turbine locations offshore is harmful to marine life, especially cetaceans.
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor Paul Kanitra, who has been an outspoken opponent of Ocean Wind, responded positively to the news of Ørsted’s withdrawal from the project, saying “we did it” in regard to the regional opposition.
“Congratulations to each and every individual who had the spine and fortitude to speak up publicly, take a stand and fight back against this nonsense,” Mayor Kanitra said in a Facebook post shortly after the decision was announced.
“The Jersey Shore is going to be a better place for generations to come because of your efforts. This should serve as the strongest of lessons why everyone needs to do their part when government insanity rears [its] ugly head.”
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