New Jersey Officials to Study Impacts of Offshore Wind Projects on Marine Ecosystem
The officials in New Jersey will kick start research to estimate the impacts of offshore wind projects on marine life after some opponents and supporters of the emerging industry expressed concerns. The study will focus on animals as large as whales and small as clams.
The Board of Public Utilities and the state Department of Environmental Protection have announced $3.4 million worth of projects to study the conditions of clam beds that are commercially valuable and the topography of the ocean floor, including CO2 levels, temperature and sunlight conditions.
The state will participate in the Regional Wildlife Science Entity with Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York to coordinate regional monitoring and research of wildlife and marine ecosystems that support environmentally responsible and cost-efficient wind power development.
According to the state, to finance the three initiatives, it needs over $3.4 million, and the fund will come from the Offshore Wind Research & Monitoring Initiative run by the DEP and BPU. The largest offshore wind developers, Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind and Orsted's Ocean Wind II will donate to the initiative. The developers, the state says, have already committed about $26 million to ecological research and monitoring of offshore wind operations.
Shawn LaTourette, the DEP commissioner, said: "As the stewards of our vibrant coastal and ocean resources, my colleagues and I at the Department of Environmental Protection are committed to the continuing pursuit of research and monitoring initiatives that will help us to ensure the responsible development of offshore wind facilities and their long-term maintenance and operation."
Joseph Fiordaliso, BPU President, said the study involves collecting data on whales and their movements across New Jersey's coastline.
The comprehensive project is part of an effort involving state, regional and federal entities to protect marine mammals and their ecosystem.
Atlantic Shores has the potential to power over 1 million homes in its lease area, which is around 10 miles off the southern New Jersey coast. Meanwhile, Orsted's Ocean Wind has the potential to power nearly half a million homes in its lease area, which is around 15 miles off the southern New Jersey coast.
The opponents of the emerging industry say one of their biggest concerns is how the turbines and buried undersea electrical transmission cables will affect the environment.
New Jersey has been a thriving offshore wind industrial hub for a while now. The state kicks started many offshore wind projects. Last month, it saw six companies bid a combined $ 4.37 billion, which is in addition to three offshore wind projects already approved by New Jersey regulators.