As the most densely populated state in the nation with significant commercial and industrial areas, New Jersey represents a major load electrical center. However, the state is lacking an onshore wind resource capable of supporting the robust wind turbine generation necessary to address greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. As a result, interest in utilizing the offshore environment for clean energy development has been high in the state since the early 2000’s.
New Jersey began actively working to advance the sustainable development of offshore wind energy generation in 2004 with the inception of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters, which was responsible for identifying and assessing the economic and environmental costs and benefits of offshore wind turbine development. Two years of ecological baseline studies began in 2008, followed by passage of the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) in 2010, establishing an incentive program for the development of offshore wind energy facilities. In 2018, Governor Phil Murphy’s Executive Order No. 8 directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and all other agencies with responsibility under OWEDA to take all actions necessary to move New Jersey towards a goal of 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind energy generation by the year 2030. On November 19, 2019, the governor raised that goal to 7,500 MW by 2035, making New Jersey a national leader in offshore renewable energy development.
While New Jersey’s coastal areas currently support other significant economic uses, from ports to robust fisheries, they are also home to unique ecological resources, from migratory flyways of global importance to spectacular offshore canyons. Consequently, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) plays a crucial role in ensuring responsible development of offshore wind energy facilities to protect these coastal resources.
Managing New Jersey’s coastal resources is the responsibility of the New Jersey Coastal Management Program (NJCMP), which is comprised of a network of offices within NJDEP. The NJCMP is administered by the Office of Policy and Coastal Management (OPCM), which is part of the NJDEP’s Land Use Management program. OPCM staff coordinate between the various offices of the NJCMP, including the Bureau of Climate Resilience Planning (the NJDEP’s lead on coastal hazards and climate resilience), the Air Quality, Energy, and Sustainability Program (the lead on renewable energy development), and others. OPCM is also responsible for all NJCMP grants, coordinating with local governments and other organizations and programs that have interests and initiatives in the coastal area, coordinating with the coastal programs of adjacent states, and providing technical advice regarding existing coastal resource management policies. OPCM also coordinates all Federal consistency reviews and conducts education and outreach, including stakeholder outreach, for Land Use Management and the NJCMP. In addition, OPCM develops and promulgates the rules implemented by the Land Use Management program, including the Coastal Zone Management Rules, N.J.A.C. 7:7.
To ensure New Jersey’s interests are elevated to the regional level, OPCM is also the NJDEP lead for coordinating with other MARCO states on regional coastal resource management issues, such as ocean planning, coastal hazard and climate adaptation strategies, coastal water quality, renewable energy initiatives, and development of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal. Along with direct involvement in every aspect of our regional ocean partnership’s efforts, OPCM staff served as MARCO chair until the summer of 2019 and currently serve as chair of MACO’s steering committee. OPCM’s respective roles within both the NJCMP and the regional ocean partnerships enables effective information sharing, coordination, and collaboration, enhancing the region’s ability to leverage existing efforts and information across multiple state and federal government agencies, federally-recognized tribes, fisheries management councils, non-governmental entities, and ocean stakeholders.
New Jersey MARCO team
New Jersey’s Team is comprised of staff with a long history of experience in coastal management, integral to the establishment of MARCO, with deep connections throughout NJCMP’s networked program as well as new staff with a fresh perspective to help address future issues and opportunities.
Kevin Hassell: Environmental Specialist 3, Management Board Member, Chair of MACO
Devon Blair: Environmental Specialist Trainee