Ocean County, New Jersey, has called for a moratorium on the construction of offshore wind farms along its coastline, citing potential negative impacts on marine life, tourism, and fishing industries.
The county board of commissioners passed a resolution on Wednesday, urging the state and federal governments to halt any further approvals of offshore wind projects until there are more studies on the environmental and economic effects.
The resolution also supported Ocean City, a famous beach resort town in Cape May County. Residents and officials have voiced opposition to a proposed offshore wind farm project known as Ocean Wind One.
Ocean Wind One is a joint venture between Danish company Ørsted and PSEG, a New Jersey-based utility. The project aims to build 99 wind turbines about 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, generating up to 1,100 megawatts of electricity that could power 500,000 homes.
The project is part of President Joe Biden’s administration’s plan to boost offshore wind development along the East Coast to combat climate change and create clean energy jobs.
However, Ocean County commissioners said they are concerned that offshore wind farms could harm marine mammals, birds, and fish populations; interfere with military operations; create visual pollution; increase electricity costs; and reduce property values.
They also said they are worried that the underground cables connecting the wind turbines to the shore could damage sensitive habitats and pose safety hazards.
The commissioners said they are not opposed to renewable energy sources but want more transparency and public input from the developers and regulators of offshore wind projects.
They urged Ørsted and PSEG to hold more public hearings and provide more information on their plans for Ocean Wind One, especially regarding its impact on Ocean City.
They also called on the state Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) to conduct more comprehensive environmental impact statements for offshore wind projects before granting them any permits or leases.
Ørsted and PSEG have said they are committed to working with local communities and stakeholders to address their concerns and ensure that their project is environmentally responsible and economically beneficial.
They have also said they follow all state and federal regulations and guidelines for offshore wind development.
The BPU has already approved Ocean Wind One as part of its goal to generate 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy by 2035. The project is slated to begin construction in 2024 and become operational by 2026. The BOEM is preparing an environmental impact statement for the project, which is expected to be completed by early 2023.