The Garden State has already indicated this year that wind will be an integral part of its energy future, and its latest funding allocations is evidence of that. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) recently announced in a news release the approval of two Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) which allocate nearly $6 million to train wind industry workers and support new green tech companies.
“Wind is absolutely key for New Jersey’s future. As we model out the next 15 to 20 years we see offshore wind making up 25 percent of our electricity. The 7500 megawatts that we’ve already committed to represents all of the electricity usage for half of New Jersey’s households,” NJEDA Senior Vice President of Economic Transformation Brian Sabina told The Business Download.
Under the agreements, New Jersey’s NJBPU-directed Clean Energy Program (NJCEP) will grant $4.5 million to aid workforce development projects managed by the NJEDA; geared at equipping more New Jersey workers for offshore wind positions. $1.25 million will go toward backing new green tech companies based in the state, according to the news release. The NJEDA and NJBPU confirmed in the announcement that funding would be used immediately and that they are working to have operational programs set by mid-2021.
“Clean energy is the future and positioning New Jersey to lead the way in offshore wind and other clean energy initiatives is crucial not only to growing our state’s economy but also to creating good jobs and business opportunities for workers and business owners in New Jersey,” said NJEDA Chief Executive Officer Tim Sullivan in the release. “The NJEDA’s partnership with the NJBPU will prepare New Jersey students and workers for clean energy jobs coming to our state and help innovative New Jersey companies lead in the clean energy and cleantech space.” Sullivan also said that companies and workers impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic will benefit from these steps and that they will make a sustainable recovery possible.
Specific examples provided by the NJBPU and NJEDA in the news release of the kinds of workforce development projects that the first $4.5 million will support include “a competition to develop the first Global Wind Organization (GWO) safety training program in the Mid-Atlantic region; best-in-class wind turbine technician training programs; a plan to establish pathways for New Jersey students and workers to enter the offshore wind industry; and seminars about offshore wind job creation for labor unions, high schools, vocational technical schools, colleges, and universities so that students, energy workers, and job seekers can train to work in the industry.”
The NJBPU and NJEDA said in the release that the NJEDA plans to use the second $1.25 million of funding “in partnership with the New Jersey Commission on Science Innovation and Technology (NJCSIT) to develop a seed grant program that will aid local cleantech businesses during critical proof of concept and prototyping stages.” According to the news release, “The NJEDA also intends to execute a research and development asset mapping and voucher initiative to increase equitable access to and utilization of the State’s existing cleantech innovation programs and initiatives.”
New Jersey has moved to prove itself as a leading U.S. state in combating climate change and pursuing green energy solutions; especially wind power. In January, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy announced in a press release the state’s Energy Master Plan, which outlines key strategies to reach his Administration’s goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2050. These strategies include “reducing energy consumption and emissions from the transportation sector” and “decarbonizing and modernizing New Jersey’s energy system,” according to the release.
“Successfully implementing the strategies outlined in the Energy Master Plan will drastically reduce New Jersey’s demand for fossil fuels, reduce our carbon emissions, greatly improve local air quality, and related health impacts,” Governor Murphy said in the release.
Back in June Governor Murphy announced that New Jersey would be developing the New Jersey Wind Port–described in a press release as the Nation’s “first purpose-built offshore wind port.” According to its official site, the New Jersey Wind Port is expected to facilitate up to $500 million of new economic activity per year and create up to 1,500 manufacturing, operations, and assembly jobs.
“The New Jersey Wind Port will create thousands of high-quality jobs, bring millions of investment dollars to our state, and establish New Jersey as the national capital of offshore wind,” Murphy remarked. “This is a vital step forward in achieving our goal of reaching 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2035 and 100 percent clean energy by 2050.” Construction on the port is expected to begin in 2021, according to its site.