New Jersey Offshore Wind Projects Reach Federal Permitting Milestone
The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has published the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for two wind energy projects offshore New Jersey that are being developed by Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, a US joint venture between EDF Renewables and Shell New Energies.
The federal permitting process started in 2021, with BOEM announcing the agency would conduct an environmental review of Atlantic Shores’ two projects. If approved, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1 and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 2 would have a combined installed capacity of about 2.8 GW, enough to power almost 1 million US households.
The combined proposal includes up to a total of 200 wind turbines and up to ten offshore substations with subsea transmission cables making landfall at up to two New Jersey locations: in Atlantic City, Sea Girt, or both. The lease area covers approximately 102,124 acres and is about 8.7 statute miles (14 kilometres) offshore New Jersey at its closest point.
Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1 and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 2 are collectively called the Atlantic Shores South Wind Project. Project 1 is the offshore wind farm that was awarded an Offshore Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities for 1,510 MW of generation capacity in June 2021.
For Project 2, which could have a capacity of 1,327 MW, the Atlantic Shores joint venture is currently seeking a power offtake agreement.
Atlantic Shores holds rights to three blocks in the Bight Lease Area: OCS-A 0499, OCS-A 0549, and OCS-A-0541.
The two projects for which BOEM now issued a draft EIS are planned to be built in lease area OCS-A 0499, which was first secured by US Wind in 2015/2016 and acquired by EDF Renewables Development in 2018.
In 2019, the commercial lease for OCS-A 0499 was transferred to Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind, which two years later assigned the southern portion of OCS-A 0499, which contains the Atlantic Shores Project 1 and 2 areas, to project companies Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 1, LLC and Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind Project 2, LLC, with each having a 50 per cent interest.
The northern portion of the OCS-A 0499 lease block is retained by the joint venture itself and given a new lease number, OCS-A 0549.
Aside from the two lease areas Atlantic Shores gained after splitting the initial block, the joint venture also holds lease rights for OCS-A 0541, which it won at the last year’s New York Bight auction.
For the two projects now going through permitting, BOEM will publish a notice of availability for the draft EIS in the Federal Register on 19 May, which will open a 45-day public comment period.
The input received during the comment period for the draft EIS will inform the preparation of the final EIS, whose findings will be used to inform BOEM’s decision on whether to approve the Atlantic Shores South Wind Project’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP) and if so, what mitigation measures to require.
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