Are Offshore Wind Farms the Future of Atlantic City?

Yesterday, feds announced they’ll lease nearly 344,000 acres off the South Jersey coast for commercial wind energy.

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New Jersey Wind Energy Area

The Department of the Interior and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced yesterday the proposed sale of commercial wind energy leases for nearly 344,000 acres off the South Jersey coast as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

BOEM proposes to auction the Wind Energy Area as two leases: the South Lease Area (160,480 acres) and the North Lease Area (183,353 acres). The Wind Energy Area begins about seven nautical miles off the coast from Atlantic City. A map of the Wind Energy Area can be found by clicking here.

Perhaps this is the future of Atlantic City: Wind energy boom town.




Analysis performed by the Department of Energy suggests that the area, if fully developed, could support up to 3,400 megawatts of commercial wind generation which could power around 1.2 million homes.

Following the July 21, 2014, publication in the Federal Register of a "Proposed Sale Notice," there will be a 60-day comment period ending September 19, 2014 (you'll be able to submit comments starting July 21st at regulations.gov under docket No. BOEM-2014-0029).

Comments received or postmarked by that date will be made available to the public and considered before the publication of the Final Sale Notice, which will announce the time and date of the lease sale.

The Proposed Sale Notice also provides detailed information concerning the areas available for leasing, the proposed lease provisions and conditions, auction details (e.g., criteria for evaluating competing bids and award procedures) and lease execution.

According to the South Jersey Times, the announcement could also be a boon for Paulsboro, N.J., right across the Delaware River from the airport.

The announcement by the feds may prove beneficial for the Port of Paulsboro, where a company could end up building components for wind turbines.

In 2013, representatives from the state government met with former governor Jim Florio and investors in a major wind energy project — Atlantic Wind Connection — at the Port of Paulsboro to discuss the possibility of the port becoming a construction site for wind energy converter platforms.

The port has been vacant for more than a decade and "the wind turbine news has been one of the few glimmers of hope for the site in recent years," the paper reports. So perhaps this is the future of Paulsboro: Wind turbine boom town.

Of course, not everyone is a fan. The Courier-Post reports:

[T]he closest locations of some of those lease blocks — within seven miles of beaches — gives pause to David Mizrahi, vice president of research for New Jersey Audubon, who’s done extensive research on the potential effects of wind turbines on migratory birds.

“I see that as a problem,” said Mizrahi, who did studies when the Atlantic County Utilities Authority built its monumental 380-foot-high onshore turbines in Atlantic City. He’s concerned that locations closer to shore could harm migratory birds. According to an 2013 article on Smithsonian.com, between 140,000 and 328,000 birds die each year from collisions with wind turbines.

[Department of the Interior-BOEM | South Jersey Times | Courier-Post]

 

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