The New Jersey legislature voted last week to urge state utility regulators to support development of an offshore transmission “backbone” to deliver wind power and relieve transmission congestion.
The Senate approved a resolution supporting the New Jersey Energy Link (SCR 159) 24-12 on Thursday, after an identical measure (ACR 197) passed the Assembly 58-18 on June 24.
The resolution asks the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to request that PJM include the project in its Regional Transmission Expansion Plan (RTEP) with an assumed capacity of 1,000 to 3,000 MW.
The measure outlines a four-stage process leading to commencement of construction in 2016 and urges BPU to sign a contract allowing the project developer, Atlantic Grid Development, LLC, to recover future development costs from ratepayers. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be asked to modify a 2011 order so that ratepayers are not liable for any costs incurred before June 28 if the project is abandoned for reasons beyond the developers’ control.
The resolution also calls for a study by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority of the “economic activity, tax revenue growth, job creation [and] pollution reduction.”
The New Jersey Energy Link is the northernmost section of the Atlantic Wind Connection, which could transport wind from offshore turbines as far south as Virginia.
The developers say the project will create about 2,000 jobs, including 500 or more in the Delaware River port of Paulsboro, where they plan to build offshore converter platforms.
Atlantic Grid said four wind developers — Apex Wind Energy, EDF Renewable Energy, Fishermen’s Energy and OffshoreMW, LLC – have endorsed the project as the most efficient means to deliver the state’s offshore wind.
The developers say the undersea transmission also will help relieve transmission congestion when the wind isn’t blowing, allowing North Jersey to access cheaper power.
Atlantic Grid CEO Bob Mitchell has said approval of the legislation is “crucial” to getting the project built.
Stefanie Brand, director of the New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, could not be reached for comment yesterday. She said previously that the line should not be considered until there is offshore generation for it to service, saying there are likely cheaper solutions to North Jersey’s transmission congestion. A BPU spokesman did not immediately reply to requests for comment yesterday.
New Jersey lawmakers approved legislation in 2010 committing the state to purchase 1,100 MW of offshore wind by 2020. But the only project proposed to date, a 25-MW pilot off Atlantic City, has been unable to win approval from state ratemakers to date.