delware environmental institute

Atlantic City Press: Two firms win federal leases for possible wind farms off South Jersey

Wind turbines seven miles off South Jersey’s coast got a step closer to reality Monday after two companies won a federal auction to lease a combined 344,000 acres for possible wind power development. RES Americas Developments Inc. bid $881,000 to lease 160,480 acres. US Wind Inc. bid about $1 million for 183,353 acres, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said. Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy was the only other company to take part among 13 potential bidders.

The New Jersey auction was the fifth in the U.S. as the Obama administration tries to boost offshore wind in federal waters. But there remain questions on how close the state really is to getting some of its power from windmills deep in the ocean.

Jeremy Firestone is professor at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and director of the Center for Carbon-free Power Integration. Firestone said how prevalent offshore wind energy becomes may depend on fossil fuel prices, he said.

“Long term if the prices don’t come down and the price of fossil fuels stays low, we won’t build many of these. But if we put a price on carbon emissions, and if the price comes down significantly for offshore wind power we’ll see a lot of them built,” Firestone said.