New Jersey eyes grid boost to handle extra offshore wind

Regulators in New Jersey have asked the regional transmission operator to include the state’s goal of 11GW of offshore wind in their expansion planning.

New Jersey needs to ccommodate an additional 3.5GW of offshore wind capacity after the state raised its target (Jane Tyska/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images)

The state’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU) formally asked PJM Interconnection for the inclusion using its state agreement approach (SAA) on 26 April.

The SSA means that PJM must consider state policy on an equal basis with reliability, cost and demand.

“Today’s action is extremely important for the future of our offshore wind programme,” said BPU president Joseph Fiordaliso. “As we look to achieve governor [Phil] Murphy’s new, increased goal of 11GW of offshore wind capacity by 2040, we must create additional pathways for wind energy to be brought on shore and into the PJM grid.”

Manu Asthana, PJM’s president and CEO, said: “We look forward to continuing to help New Jersey achieve its offshore goals reliably and as cost-effectively as possible.”

New Jersey, which has the highest goal for offshore wind in the US, previously used the SSA when it planned its first solicitation for offshore wind transmission proposals.

In 2020, the BPU had formally requested the inclusion of New Jersey’s then offshore wind policy goal of 7.5GW by 2035 into PJM’s transmission planning process, which resulted in a competitive solicitation for a variety of transmission projects.

That process resulted in the selection of the Larrabee Tri-Collector Solution proposed by Mid-Atlantic Offshore Development (MAOD) and Jersey Central Power & Light Company.  MAOD is a joint venture of EDF Renewables-North America and Shell New Energies US. Shell and EDF are behind the planned 2.72GW Atlantic Shores wind project, slated for a site off Atlantic City, New Jersey.

Grid expansion

SAA 2.0 is expected to solicit proposals to inject the additional 3.5GW needed to reach the state’s new 11GW goal at the Deans 500kV substation, said the BPU. However, transmission developers will be allowed to propose particularly cost-effective alternative points of interconnection that may still meet the state’s immediate policy goals.

The Deans 500kV substation was earmarked for SAA 2.0 because it is located near high electric load centres and is accessible to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) offshore wind lease areas that are likely to service New Jersey. PMJ previously identified Deans as being able to accommodate the additional capacity.

Several onshore grid upgrade projects were also awarded in 2020 – to enable the capacity injection afforded by Larrabee – to Atlantic City Electric, BGE, LS Power, PECO, PPL, PSEG and Transource.
Using the SAA tender process to identify and award these projects is estimated to save ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars, in addition to providing other ancillary benefits, NJBPU said.

The SAA 2.0 tender will have no impact on offshore wind projects that have already been awarded, or that will be awarded up to a total of 7.5GW. Those projects will interconnect as directed in the applicable orders that have already approved qualified offshore wind projects. SAA 2.0 will be used for further approved projects up to the state's new goal of 11GW.

NJBPU said it will produce a guidance document for the planned tender. This will include details of, for example, components and the proposal evaluation process. A draft will be made available for public comment, but no date has yet been set for that.