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OP-ED: Nautilus would put NJ at forefront of offshore wind industry

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This month, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is considering approval of the Nautilus Offshore Wind project, a joint venture between EDF Renewables and Fishermen's Energy set to be located 2.8 miles east of the Atlantic City coastline and include three wind turbines. Nautilus could be the first offshore wind project in the state, and only the second in the country.

Jump-starting the state’s shift to renewable energy with obvious environmental benefits, Nautilus is also expected to be a boon for the state’s economy, with a projected addition of over $150 million for the New Jersey economy, including $16 million in annual revenue and hundreds of jobs. Those numbers don’t tell the whole story about what the development of the Nautilus Wind Project would mean to our workforce and continued growth for generations to come.

Nautilus, being a relatively small-scale project that is already permitted, offers New Jersey the opportunity to set our state up as a leader in offshore wind. First, it allows us to train and scale up a skilled workforce capable of building and maintaining offshore wind projects.

Offshore wind projects require highly capable and technical laborers to assemble and install turbines in the ocean, as well as to manage the facility’s continued operations. Less than three miles from shore, Nautilus will provide a safe training ground for these new workers and better prepare them for projects to come much farther out in federal waters.

Approval of Nautilus is imperative if we want to facilitate training of local workers at limited risk, and in turn, the three-turbine project may continue to serve as a training ground for maintenance and operations workers as we continue to build the pipeline of laborers for massive commercial projects down the line.

Second, for New Jersey to be attractive for more offshore wind developers, the state also needs a robust supply chain capable of manufacturing the different parts and components of wind turbines. Oftentimes significant capital investments must be made, as local manufacturers need to purchase and install the equipment necessary to produce these components on a large scale. Banks also need to have confidence in the industry to release the necessary financing. In this context, Nautilus will lay the groundwork for a supply chain that can grow with incoming offshore wind projects.

Nautilus has the potential to set New Jersey up for unparalleled economic growth and employment opportunities. Moreover, having already secured the necessary permits, construction can begin quickly after approval and be completed as early as 2020.

Our state is currently in a race with our neighbors along the coastline to establish itself as the hub of the U.S. offshore wind industry. Over a hundred wind energy facilities have been implemented across Europe, generating billions in revenue, and the demand for wind energy is expected to growth 600 percent by 2030.

Meanwhile, Rhode Island’s Block Island Wind Farm is the only offshore wind project to have been approved and completed in the Northeast region to date. As a result, there is an unprecedented opportunity for New Jersey to secure a dominant share of the offshore wind energy, but only if we move quickly.

Gov. Murphy has made wind energy an early priority of his administration, and we are positioned to reach the goals laid out in the Offshore Wind Development Act and support his efforts in the creation of the New Jersey Wind Institute. Nautilus would help build the expertise and workforce necessary to streamline operations, increase efficiency, demonstrate safety and reduce costs for future projects.

The economic opportunity that Nautilus provides will not wait for us, however. Tens of thousands of workers and the future of New Jersey’s economy are depending on the swift approval of Nautilus, and looking forward to making our state the birthplace of the U.S. offshore wind industry.


Gregory Lalevee is business manager of International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825.

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