Burbo Bank Extension offshore wind farm in the UK

County Road Permit Impedes Progress on Biggest Offshore Wind Farm Approved in US

Ørsted has filed a complaint against Cape May County with the Superior Court of New Jersey as the developer has not yet received a permit required for investigation works at a section of a county road. The company says this is creating “a cascading and adverse effect” on the recently approved 1.1 GW Ocean Wind 1 offshore wind project and claims “the County is withholding the Permit because it opposes the Project”.

In the complaint, filed against the County and three of its officers on 3 July, the company is initiating legal action on four counts, requesting that the permit be issued immediately and saying that this has already delayed the project and that the County’s “refusal” to issue the permit is having a cascading effect on other permits and approvals needed for construction.

Ørsted has a similar legal action at the Superior Court against Ocean City which is also an owner of the section of the road.

The offshore wind developer applied for a road opening permit with Cape May County in April, following orders issued by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) that authorise the taking of easements on the county-owned and the Ocean City-owned properties for the work related to Ocean Wind 1 cable route to be carried out.

In the application, the company requested for the permit to be issued within 30 days with the plan to perform the investigations before the end of May to avoid interference with the peak summer season.

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In the complaint now before the Superior Court, Ørsted claims that the reason behind not receiving the permit yet is the County’s open opposition to the project and points to the resolution the County issued in May which, according to the resolution’s statement, “directs all available resources of the County toward the goal of stopping Orsted’s Ocean Wind 1 and Ocean Wind 2 offshore wind development for the protection of our local environment and economy”.

The County’s resolution was issued in the wake of the multiple whale deaths on the US East Coast that are happening lately, and in a short span of time, which has been ascribed to survey activities at sea by some, more specifically wind energy-related surveys.

However, the County, which is reviewing the complaint, is looking to find a compromise in the matter of the road opening permit, according to a report by AP’s Wayne Parry, who cited Michael Donohue, who is representing the County before the Court, as saying: “The giant foreign international offshore wind corporation Orsted has decided to sue the county of Cape May rather than try to sit down and find common ground. Demand letters and lawsuits seem to be the only language Orsted knows”.

In its complaint, on the other hand, Ørsted claims it was left without a response from the County on more than one occasion.

According to the developer, the project’s consultant reached out to the County’s Engineering Department (regarding the traffic plan that the Ocean City Police Department and State Police had accepted) at various times since the application was submitted in April “but has never received a response”.

The company further cites two instances when it was left without a response from the County.

The first one is with regard to a letter sent to the Cape May County Counsel in May urging the County to issue the road opening permit and confirm that it would record the Easement Orders by 2 June so that the work could be completed before the summer tourist season. The developer sent another letter to the Cape May County Counsel the following month, after the Court issued an order in the similar litigation involving Ocean City, urging the County to record the orders and to issue the road opening permit, with the condition that the investigation work begins on or after 11 September.

Ørsted did not provide any details or comment on the matter when contacted by offshoreWIND.biz saying the company do not comment on pending litigation. 

The developer’s Head of Government Affairs and Market Strategy, Maddy Urbish, said: “Ocean Wind 1 remains committed to collaboration with local communities and will continue working to support New Jersey’s clean energy targets and economic development goals by bringing good-paying jobs and local investment to the Garden State”.  

The 1.1 GW Ocean Wind 1 will have up to 98 wind turbines, to be supplied by the US wind turbine manufacturer GE, installed on monopile foundations.

The construction is scheduled to start with onshore activities this autumn, with major offshore construction activities to begin in 2024 with the installation of the first monopiles, shortly followed by the installation of GE Haliade-X 12 MW wind turbines.

Once fully operational in 2025, the 1.1 GW Ocean Wind 1 project, located approximately 24 kilometres (15 miles) off the coast of southern New Jersey, will generate enough electricity to power 500,000 New Jersey households.


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