NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—On September 30, along with U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker, New Brunswick Congressman's Frank Pallone wrote a letter to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie concering an upcoming auction of ocean space off the New Jersey coast.
The 343,833 acres of ocean is located off the coast of southern New Jersey and is being put up to auction by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) on November 9.
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has conducted nine previous lease sales for federal waters including waters offshore Rhode Island-Massachusets, waters offshore Maryland, waters offshore Virginia, and now, waters offshore New Jersey.
"These lease sales have generated about $14.5 million in winning bids, for more than 700,000 acres in federal waters," according to the BOEM.
The area planned to be auctioned November 9 has been designated as a Wind Energy Area (WEA) and has been divided into two parts.
Two auctions will be held for these spaces and currently, thirteen companies are said to be participating in the auctions.
Pallone, Menendez and Booker wrote a letter urging Govenor Christie to pay attention to the opportunity the auction could afford for the development of wind power plants.
In the letter addressed to Christie, the three federal legislators said that this portion of ocean land, when used for sustainable engery "has the promise of Making New Jersey a national leader in the development of offshore wind."
They implore Christie to follow through with his five-year old act which would allow companies to bring energy from offshore areas, to land.
The bipartisan Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) was signed by Christie in 2010, and the letter points out, he has still not, five years later, implemented the law into place.
The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act was written to require the State to create a system in which New Jersey includes offshore wind energy as part of its electricity-generating possibilities.
Signed on August 19, 2010, Christie said the legislation, "will provide New Jersey with an opportunity to leverage our vast resources and innovative technologies to allow businesses to engage in new and emerging sectors of the energy industry."
The Wind Energy Areas within the space of land to be auctioned in November, are claimed to have the potential to power 1.2 million homes with 3,400 megawatts created by wind energy.
Pallone, Menendez and Booker see the capability of this area and the importance of the auction to New Jersey and tell Christie that, "Offshore wind has incredible potential to spur new manufacturing in New Jersey, create good-paying jobs, and provide our residents with a clean, affordable, and abundant source of power."
They push Christie to follow through with OWEDA by fully implementing the law, giving New Jersey the power to use the wind energy afforded by this offshore space.
As noted in the letter, if the act is implemented in time for the auction, New Jersey will be closer to meeting its renewable energy goal.
Included in the goal is a 3,000 megawatt goal of offshore energy, which if the bill is followed through with in time for the auction, New Jersey is sure to surpass with a 3,400 megawatt capability now offshore.
If the bill is implemented, the thirteen companies competing for the Wind Energy Areas going under auction on November 9, will have the State approval to bring that energy to New Jersey homes thus creating a more stable and renewable energy corpus in New Jersey.
What, if anything, to do with the valuable Atlantic Ocean real estate off the Jersey Shore is a hotly-contested issue, and one that Pallone cares a lot about.
Pallone's Congressional district includes New Brunswick, but also much of the coastline in Monmouth County.
Pallone, a Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, introduced a bill with Menendez earlier in 2015 called the Clean Ocean and Safe Tourism (COAST) Anti-Drilling Act.
Introduced on Earth Day 2015, exactly five years after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the COAST Act would prevent the Department of Interior from offshore drilling so another acsident like the Deepwater Horizon Spill never has to happen again.
Menendez said, "We’re introducing the COAST Act to help protect our local economies, marine life, the health of our shore residents and to tell Big Oil that America’s coastline is not for sale.”