Regulators in New Jersey on Friday awarded rights to build a huge offshore wind farm in the southern part of the state to Garden State Offshore Energy, a joint venture that includes P.S.E.G. Renewable Generation, a subsidiary of P.S.E.G. Global, a sister company of the state’s largest utility.
The selection, which includes access of up to $19 million in state grants, is part of New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, which calls for 20 percent of the state’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. It also comes on the heels of decisions by Delaware and Rhode Island to let energy companies install offshore wind farms.
Energy experts say that these approvals could prompt regulators in New York to support projects off the south shore of Long Island and New York City.
The proposal by Garden State Offshore Energy includes installing 96 turbines to produce as much as 346 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about tens of thousands of houses. The turbines would be arranged in a rectangle about a half-mile long by one-third of a mile wide. The project, which would cost more than $1 billion, would not start producing electricity until 2013.
The turbines, though, would be between 16 and 20 miles off the coast of New Jersey’s Atlantic and Ocean counties, and thus in much deeper water than other proposed projects. Deepwater Wind, which will work with P.S.E.G to build the wind farm, said it can affordably build turbines in 100 feet of water with the same technology used to build oil and gas rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and other locations.
Because the wind blows more reliably during the day farther off shore, the company hopes to get better prices for the power it produces. And by putting the turbines that far offshore, the company hopes to blunt opposition from environmentalists and residents who say that turbines diminish ocean views and damage wildlife.
“People don’t have to choose between clean energy and a clear view,” said Nelson Garcez, the vice president of renewable generation at P.S.E.G.
Mr. Garcez said the deepwater turbines would produce enough power to help the company break even in about seven years.
The next step is for Garden State Offshore Energy to seek permits from state and federal agencies to build offshore. The company will also have to get commitments from manufacturers to build the turbines, which would be assembled in New Jersey and could potentially create hundreds of new jobs.
The decision by New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities comes just over a week after the Long Island Power Authority and Con Edison said that they would study whether it is economically feasible to build a wind farm about 10 miles off the south shore of Queens. In August, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said the city would solicit proposals from companies interested in building offshore wind farms and placing turbines atop buildings in the city.
The projects being approved in neighboring states could increase the chances that offshore wind farms could also win approval in New York, where a vast majority of wind turbines are on land and upstate.
“It’s like a rising tide lifting all boats,” said Peter Iwanowicz, the director of the New York State Climate Change Office in Albany. “More projects in the Northeast helps with public acceptance that we need more clean electrons and helps us guard against rising fossil fuel prices and water levels on the coast.”