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‘The Energy Future Will Be Union-Built’ – The IBEW Is ‘Excited’ About New Jersey Plan To Become The ‘Houston Of Off-Shore Wind’

Published Sunday, September 13, 2020
by IBEW News
‘The Energy Future Will Be Union-Built’ – The IBEW Is ‘Excited’ About New Jersey Plan To Become The ‘Houston Of Off-Shore Wind’

(FOLSOM, NEW JERSEY) - Hundreds of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Members could be working as early as next Spring on construction of the New Jersey Wind Port, a massive project that has Union Leaders hopeful about the potential for decades of long-term renewable energy jobs for IBEW Members and other Union Trades.

“This project announcement ‘could not have come at a better time considering the uncertainty of future construction due to COVID-19,’” said Folsom, New Jersey IBEW Local 351 Business Manager Dan Cosner, whose South Jersey jurisdiction covers the wind port’s planned Salem County location at the mouth of the Delaware River.

In June, Garden State Governor Phil Murphy announced plans for the 200-acre, $400 million production and assembly facility to be built in Lower Alloways Creek, where he believes it will serve as a major first step toward making his state a nerve center for the off-shore wind projects slated for construction along the U.S. Atlantic Coast over the next decade.

“Wind generation discussions in New Jersey have been going on for ten to fifteen years,” Cosner said. “Governor Murphy ‘has been pushing green energy a long time and he jump-started the talks over the last three or four years to make it a reality here.’”

Right now, almost all utility-scale wind power generation in the U.S. and Canada is land-based, supplementing traditional and reliable baseload power sources such as nuclear and coal.

But Murphy hopes the wind port will reveal the potential of off-shore wind and help New Jersey dominate the Wind Energy Field - much like oil made Texas king of that industry in the last century.

“Somebody’s ‘going to get to be the Houston of American off-shore wind,’” quipped Tim Sullivan, Chief Executive of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, in an interview with The Washington Post.

When the wind port’s initial work is complete, the facility will support at least nine off-shore generation projects planned by Denmark-based Orsted.

“They’re ‘the guys, the movers and shakers,’” Cosner said.

The IBEW has worked with Orsted before. 

Providence, Rhode Island Local 99 Members were instrumental in getting the company to build the U.S.’s first - and, so far, only – off-shore utility-scale wind farm on Block Island, about 13 miles off Rhode Island’s shore.

The project’s five turbines became operational in 2016.

“Future off-shore wind farm projects ‘can leverage what the IBEW learned in Rhode Island and expand on it,’” IBEW Third District International Vice President Mike Welsh said.

One such project is Ocean Wind, a partnership between Orsted and Public Service Electric and Gas, a utility that employs thousands of IBEW Members in New Jersey and New York.

Ocean Wind will be New Jersey’s first utility-scale off-shore wind farm by installing seven massive General Electric turbines about 15 miles off the coast of Southern New Jersey by 2024.

The eight off-shore projects in addition to Ocean Wind, from Maine to Southern Virginia, either have been set in motion or remain in development.

“We’re ‘curious to see how it’s all going to work out, but it could be a great opportunity for the IBEW,’” Welsh said.

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