New Jersey picks Danish firm Orsted for largest wind farm in the US

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New Jersey has chosen a Danish company to build a wind energy project off the coast of Atlantic City that could power half a million homes.

The state Board of Public Utilities on Friday chose Orsted to build a project that would generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity. Public Service Enterprise Group will assist with the project and has the option to invest in it.

Orsted already operates a windmill farm off Rhode Island's Block Island and has leases for other projects off New Jersey and Massachusetts.

New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittle says that the project is important for the state.

“We've always felt that offshore wind was the most cost-effective way to bring renewable energy to New Jersey,” he says.

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The wind farm will be built 15 miles off the Jersey Shores. Orsted says the work could be completed by 2024. It will be the largest wind farm in the United States.

“You'll save over 3 million metric tons a year of carbon dioxide and even more of other greenhouse gases,” says Tittle.

The company says that it will only take 80 to 100 windmills to generate the power needed. Nearly 15,000 jobs will be created during the project.

But some environmentalists say that they are concerned about the migrating bird populations near the windmills – a concern that Tittle says is unwarranted.

“It's outside of the flyway, so there won't be any birds normally going into that area. Windmill projects today are designed with sonar, so if a flock of birds goes into the area they will automatically shut down,” he says. “We look at offshore wind as a win-win.”

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal of having his state generate all its energy from clean sources by 2050.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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