The Biden administration has approved the largest offshore wind energy project yet in US waters, to be located off the coast of New Jersey where officials say it could power hundreds of thousands of homes with clean energy.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Wednesday it approved the Ocean Wind 1 project’s plan for construction and operations. Ocean Wind 1 joins two other projects – Vineyard Wind in Massachusetts and South Fork Wind off the coasts of both Rhode Island and New York – in getting final approval from the federal government.
The wind farm will be built around 13 nautical miles southeast of Atlantic City. The administration approved up to 98 turbines to operate in the area, as well as three offshore substations to help transmit wind-generated electricity to shore.
When completed, the Biden administration estimated the New Jersey project will generate about 1,100 megawatts of clean energy, which could power over 380,000 homes. Administration officials touted the projects as a big jump ahead for US offshore wind – which significantly lags behind Europe and China.
“Ocean Wind 1 represents another significant step forward for the offshore wind industry in the United States,” BOEM director Elizabeth Klein said in a statement.
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland called the project a “milestone” in a statement, and said the administration is “moving forward with responsible clean energy development that will benefit communities, while also mitigating potential impacts on the environment or marine life.”
In the department’s record of decision, administration officials also laid out how offshore wind developers will try to reduce construction impacts to marine life in the area, including restrictions on boat vessel speeds and construction clearance zones.
The approval comes as scientists are studying a rise in whale strandings and deaths, which some have blamed on wind farm projects. More than 20 whales have been stranded along the East Coast since December, with two humpback whales found dead in the New York and New Jersey areas in early June.
Government officials from BOEM and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded earlier this year that the offshore wind projects were not responsible for any whale deaths to-date.
Several whale deaths in the New York and New Jersey have been attributed to boat strikes, though, as the area is a heavily trafficked shipping corridor.