NJ Wind Project Cancelled — Where’s the Money?
Gov. Phil Murphy's administration is still struggling to deal with the political and environmental fallout from the cancellation of two major wind projects off the New Jersey coast.
It was a devastating defeat for Murphy personally and politically, and left his entire energy agenda in shambles.
Serious questions have arisen about Murphy's dealings with the Danish developer Orsted and Republican lawmakers are pressing for answers.
Other than condemning Orsted for it's withdrawal and vague statements about pursuing other wind developers, Murphy has been relatively silent.
He did post on social media Wednesday that Orsted has not received a dime of taxpayer money.
Republican state Sen. Michael Testa and Senate Republican Leader Anthony Bucco aren't buying that and have demanded a full accounting.
They sent a letter to Murphy on Wednesday demanding a fiscal audit and documents related to interactions with Orsted as well as "immediate action to regain any funds that were used to subsidize Orsted's failed wind farms."
"Governor Murphy should publicly release all documents," Testa said in a statement, "New Jerseyans have a right to know how much of their tax dollars were wasted on this boondoggle and what the administration intends to do to get it back."
Murphy claims the state is pursing all options.
Sen. Bucco is calling for legislative hearings into the failures of the project, which was going to be subsidized with $1 billion in state incentives.
"Aggressive, and public, legislative inquiries are long overdue," Bucco said, "Transparency and accountability need to be restored in Trenton to prevent anything like this colossal waste from ever happening again."
Democratic leaders who allied with Murphy to provide the massive subsidies have expressed disappointment with the project cancellation, but have also been silent about what comes next.
What happens now?
The cancellation of the Ocean Wind projects by Orsted was a stunning defeat for Phil Murphy who was trying to make the transition to green energy part of his legacy as governor.
Orsted was to begin turbine construction in 2024.
Now, with that project dead, it is highly unlikely that any wind projects will be completed by the time Murphy leaves office in 2025.
Other wind projects are proceeding, but the companies involved have also confessed to their own financial difficulties.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is also continuing to solicit new companies to commit to producing wind power.
That reality also throws a huge monkey wrench into Murphy's overall Energy Master Plan that calls for a transition to 100% clean energy by 2035.
Even if the wind projects had been completed, experts agree that New Jersey's power grid is incapable of handling the demand for more electricity.
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