By MADDY VITALE
Orsted is putting its offshore wind farm plan in motion, despite opposition by some city leaders and residents of Ocean City.
Each of the 99 wind turbines proposed are roughly 900 feet tall and would stretch down the coast from Atlantic City to Stone Harbor about 15 miles offshore, passing by Ocean City in the process.
On Wednesday, the Danish energy company, Orsted, filed a petition with the state Board of Public Utilities to install a transmission line through Ocean City to connect the offshore turbines to a substation next to the decommissioned B.L. England Generating Station in Upper Township.
“This petition filing seeks to maintain the project’s timeline to meet critical permitting milestones and assure that construction and operations can commence on time, so we can ensure the commitments we made to New Jersey are realized,” according to a statement from Orsted.
The project, called Ocean Wind 1, is currently in the planning and permitting phase and is slated for completion by 2024. Orsted representatives have said that it would be an 1,100-megawatt wind farm that would create thousands of construction jobs and power over 500,000 homes.
In August, Ocean Wind submitted a formal, written request to Ocean City seeking local approvals for the project. However, they were unable to obtain the required easements, consents and associated actions from Ocean City, according to Orsted.
On Thursday, Ocean City Solicitor Dorothy McCrosson said of the petition, “The administration and City Council will meet in executive session Feb. 10 to discuss the petition filed by Ocean Wind. Until then, the mayor cannot comment further.”
Ocean City Council President Bob Barr said in an interview Thursday with OCNJDaily.com that the project is not a done deal.
“It doesn’t change the likelihood of whether the project is happening or not,” said Barr, who has been among the officials who have raised objections about the project.
He noted that City Council will discuss it during the upcoming executive session during its regularly scheduled meeting.
“We will discuss our options. I expected it,” he said of the petition filing. “Their enemies are time and money, so they want to do this as quickly as they can.”
Cape May County Administrator Kevin Lare said in an email Thursday night, “The County of Cape May is closely reviewing the petition filed by the Ocean Wind 1 project with the Board of Public Utilities to take certain property in Ocean City.”
Specifically, Orsted filed the petition to install a transmission cable under the seabed and bring the electricity onshore through the cable at the beach lots of 35th Street.
The underground cable would travel west to Bay Avenue, north on Bay Avenue to Roosevelt Boulevard, west across Peck Bay at Roosevelt Boulevard Bridge and then continue on to Route 9 to property near the former B.L. England Generating Station, according to the petition.
But over the past couple of years since the company approached city leaders about the project, there has been opposition, as well as support for the project.
Some residents have said during public forums that they believe the wind farm would do exactly as it is touted to do — provide renewable and clean energy — while others say it will pose problems for migratory birds, the fishing industry, marine life, obstruct ocean views from the shoreline, and potentially negatively affect the rental and real estate values on the island.
But Orsted said in its petition that their goal continues to be to provide clean energy and support New Jersey’s initiative on green energy.
This July, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill into law allowing for offshore wind farm projects to go through without having to receive approval from the local municipalities.
The result has generated anger from some local officials in Ocean City and other towns. Members of City Council have repeatedly complained that the bill stripped Ocean City of its right to “home rule.”
The petition process was recently put in place by the state to help New Jersey meet its clean energy targets, the Orsted petition said.
“We continue to engage with local officials as this petition advances and aim to negotiate agreements with local communities that facilitate the development of offshore wind and benefit all New Jerseyans,” the petition reads.
The petition continues, “The onshore cable route is necessary to bring the renewable electricity from the wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean to interconnect with the existing electricity grid onshore, to bring the benefits of renewable wind generation to residents and businesses in New Jersey.”