Clean Ocean Action

Clean Ocean Advocate, February 2006


     Over the past year, the members of the Blue Ribbon Panel invested time, gathered significant amounts of information, and debated the appropriateness of offshore wind facilities.  Clean Ocean Action (COA) reviewed the Blue Ribbon Panel’s Interim report, “Comparison of the Benefits and Costs of Developing Offshore Wind in New Jersey,” that was released in December (for a copy of the report, go to 

     In signing the Executive Order that established the Blue Ribbon Panel, Acting NJ Governor Codey charged the Panel with “identifying and weighing the costs and benefits of developing offshore wind turbine facilities, and considering both economic and environmental costs and benefits. The Blue Ribbon Panel shall also consider the need for offshore wind turbines and a comparison to other electric power sources, including fossil, nuclear and renewable fuels as part of the State’s long-term electricity needs.” 

     After careful review by Principal Scientist, Dr. Jennifer Samson, COA found that the Interim Report falls short of that charge.  Specifically, it does not contain information essential for determining the appropriateness of offshore wind facility development.  For example, the report:

  • acknowledges the lack of scientific data and information available;
  • fails to discuss the monetary cost of construction, maintenance, operation, and decommission;
  • does not show that the actual amount of energy that will be produced by the facility is only between 10-20% of the named amount (i.e., 300 MegaWatt);
  • repeatedly cites the findings of two scientifically flawed studies;
  • looks at placement of wind facilities in an area from three miles offshore, some of which may not be viable due to low winds, environmentally sensitivity, or other limiting factors;
  • does not address the possibility that any wind facility off the NJ coast could be subjected to high winds and strong wave action caused by Nor’easters and Hurricanes; and,
  • does not include the possibility of fuel/oil spills from maintenance and storage.

     To assess the information that was in the report, COA created a chart, “Comparison of the Benefits and Costs of Developing Offshore Wind in New Jersey Based on the Interim Report.”  The chart outlines information presented in the report in terms of benefits, costs/impacts, and caveats.  COA’s chart and review are available on (follow “Issues & Campaigns” & “Offshore Wind Energy”).  

     COA supports the development of “green” energy, including, first and foremost, energy conservation and efficiency.  COA is carefully evaluating the Blue Ribbon Panel process.  In determining whether the ocean should play a role in developing renewable energy, a thorough and true determination of the cost and benefits is essential.  If found appropriate, specific laws, regulations, criteria, and ownership/management guidance must be in place.


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