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  • Writer's pictureJean Sault

Homeowners fight back against N.J. offshore wind, saying it’ll increase electric bills

Article from Updated: Mar. 09, 2024, 11:10 a.m.|Published: Mar. 08, 2024, 2:45 p.m.

Two homeowners’ groups are challenging New Jersey’s preliminary approval of two new offshore wind power projects, saying they would be unlawfully costly to electricity customers.

Protect Our Coast New Jersey and Defend Brigantine Beach and Downbeach filed an appeal to the approval Tuesday in state court, saying that power contracts granted to the project developers violate state law.

The state Board of Public Utilities in January chose Attentive Energy LLC and Leading Light Wind LLC to build offshore wind projects.

But the contracts they were awarded violate New Jersey law that mandates that any increase in rates for offshore wind must be exceeded by economic and environmental benefits to the state, according to attorney Bruce Afran, who filed the appeal on behalf of the groups.

“If these awards are allowed to stand, residents throughout the state could pay up to $20 billion extra for power and see their already high bills increase by up to 20% or more,” said Keith Moore, government affairs director for Defend Brigantine Beach. “Besides the cost to residents, the rate impacts to commercial and industrial users will be severe, up to 25 and 30% respectively. Many businesses may have to close under that financial pressure.”

The BPU declined comment Friday.

In announcing the new projects in January, the board said they would add $6.84 a month to the average residential customer’s bill; $58.73 a month to the average commercial bill and $513.22 a month to the average industrial bill.

Edward O’Donnell of Whitestrand Consulting, who has prepared a report in support of the appeal, said the board has “deliberately and improperly chosen to use hypothetical benefits to future global populations from reduced carbon emissions at an extremely high value to justify the exorbitant prices for power from these projects.”

The groups also say the board failed to include over $5 billion in added costs for onshore transmission upgrades, which they said will push electric rates even higher.

At a press conference last week touting the projects, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said they will “guarantee that New Jerseyans have access to clean, affordable energy produced right here in our state.”

The action brings the state’s total of preliminarily approved offshore wind projects to three — the same level it was at before Danish wind developer Orsted scrapped its two wind farms proposed for the state’s southern coast in October. The projects join Atlantic Shores, a previously approved wind farm.

The board is preparing for a fourth round of project solicitations.



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