Regulators in New Jersey awarded the rights on Friday for construction of a $1 billion offshore wind farm in the southern part of the state to Garden State Offshore Energy. The rights, which include access to as much as $19 million in state grants, is part of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for 20 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. The decision comes on the heels of decisions by Delaware and Rhode Island to allow the installation of offshore wind farms.
Energy experts say that these approvals could prompt regulators in New York to support projects off the south shore of Long Island and New York City. The proposal by Garden State Offshore Energy includes the installation of 96 turbines to produce as much as 346 megawatts of electricity, enough to power tens of thousands of houses, starting in 2013. The turbines would be arranged in a rectangle about a half-mile long by one-third of a mile wide and would be placed 16 to 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey’s Atlantic and Ocean Counties, much farther out and in much deeper water than other proposed wind farms. Deepwater Wind, which will work with P.S.E.G. to build the wind farm, said it could affordably build turbines in 100 feet of water with the same technology used to build oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and other places.
Because the wind blows more reliably during the day farther offshore, the company expects to be able to more readily tap into the higher prices available on the power market at peak times. And by putting the turbines so far out, the company hopes to blunt opposition from environmentalists and residents who say that turbines diminish ocean views and damage wildlife.
“People don’t have to choose between clean energy and a clear view,” said Nelson Garcez, a vice president of P.S.E.G. Global. Mr. Garcez said the deep-water turbines would produce enough power to help the company break even in about seven years.
In August, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said that the city would solicit proposals from companies interested in building offshore wind farms and placing turbines atop buildings in the city. The projects being approved in neighboring states could increase the chances for approval of offshore wind farms in New York, where a vast majority of wind turbines are on land and upstate.