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Offshore wind company, coastal town in legal battle over right to bring power cables onto land

Bill Duhart - For The Star-Ledger  


    An impasse this month over where to bring offshore wind power cables onshore has ended up in state Superior Court.

    The Ocean Wind LLC project is the first of several wind farms approved by the state to lead an effort to get up to half of New Jersey’s energy production from non-fossil fuels by 2035 and all of it by 2050.

    The state Board of Public Utilities has approved a plan to bring the cables ashore at the 35th Street beach in Ocean City, Cape May County — a pristine setting with a view that looks like an infinite horizon into the Atlantic Ocean.

    The city has appealed the BPU approval to bring the power lines ashore 50 feet under the ocean bed and beach, and then snake through Ocean City streets to a decommissioned former power plant 7 miles away in Upper Township that had once burned coal.

    “Ocean City has appealed the N.J. Board of Public Utilities ruling that bypasses local review of the proposed transmission line through town,” a statement from the city said. “The appeal is made on the basis that this may not be the only or best route, and that other routes were given little consideration. The City has asked the BPU to stay its ruling until the appeal process is complete. The BPU has not yet ruled on that request.”

    NJ Advance Media received a statement Thursday from Ørsted after a request for comment.

    “We do not comment on pending litigation,” said Maddy Urbish, head of government affairs and market strategy, NJ, Ørsted. “Ocean Wind 1 remains committed to collaboration with local communities and will continue working to support New Jersey’s clean energy targets and economic development goals by bringing good-paying jobs and local investment to the Garden State.”

    The company said the work will not be done during the summer tourist season and the streets will be resurfaced at its cost.

    Ørsted is seeking easements on three parcels of land owned by the city, totaling just under an acre in size. All of the lots will remain undisturbed on the surface, the company stated in public filings. There will be construction and excavation along 35th Street to Roosevelt Boulevard in the public right of way.

    Ocean City officials have said they oppose a 2021 New Jersey law that gives wind energy projects approved by the state public utilities board the authority to locate, build, use and maintain wires and associated land-based infrastructure as long as they run underground on public property including streets.

    Ocean Wind 1 is the first of three wind farms approved by the state, which will lead the nation in offshore wind development when it is scheduled to be operational next year. The project — a landmark for the Danish wind giant Ørsted — includes the construction of up to 98, 900-foot-tall wind turbines 15 miles off the coast. The power cables will come ashore and travel 7 miles to the shuttered B.L. England Generating Station in Upper Township.

    Bill Duhart,NJ Advance Media,


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