New Jersey Dems Approved Big Subsidies To Land a Foreign-Built Offshore Wind Farm. It Fell Apart Anyway.

Danish company Ørsted scraps projects planned for Atlantic City coast

NJ Gov. Phil Murphy (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)
November 1, 2023

New Jersey Democrats, led by Governor Phil Murphy, approved up to $1 billion in subsidies to entice a foreign company to build wind farms off the coast of Atlantic City. Now, the projects are dead.

Danish green energy giant Ørsted on Tuesday night said it was pulling out of New Jersey, citing "high inflation, rising interest rates, and supply chain bottlenecks." The move comes as a significant blow to Murphy and Democrats in the State Legislature, who earlier this year approved an estimated $1 billion in taxpayer-funded subsidies to land the project. Murphy and other state officials promised that Ørsted would bring thousands of jobs to New Jersey as part of the governor's green energy agenda.

Ørsted's decision to scrap its New Jersey projects also reflects the challenges plaguing the Biden administration's so-called clean energy revolution. President Joe Biden has funneled tens of billions of dollars in grants, loans, and subsidies to the green energy industry in an attempt to spur the use of electric cars, solar panels, and other green alternatives. But many of those alternatives have not caught on. Fifty-seven percent of Americans, for example, say they are not likely to make their next vehicle an electric one, according to a recent Yahoo Finance poll.

Murphy in a Tuesday statement condemned Ørsted's decision as both "outrageous" and surprising, saying that the company "as recently as several weeks ago … made public statements regarding the viability" of its New Jersey projects. But Ørsted has long signaled that it may not be able to deliver in the Garden State, despite securing significant subsidies. In September, the company acknowledged major supply chain issues that it said could force it to "walk away from projects" in the United States.

Daniel Turner, the founder and executive director of energy advocacy group Power the Future, said Murphy's "green dreams" met a "hard reality."

"Wind power received billions in taxpayer support, yet we see project after project failing," Turner said in a statement. "Governor Murphy can rage all he wants about getting back money from the company for coffers in Trenton, but the truth is the green agenda pushed by him and other militant leftists made today happen."

Murphy did not respond to a request for comment. Ørsted directed the Washington Free Beacon to its Tuesday night statement.

Ørsted's project has for months been a source of controversy in New Jersey. The state's independent ratepayer group in July found the wind farm would bring increased utility costs for the state’s ratepayers, while Murphy himself in a September letter to Biden acknowledged the "significant" energy costs associated with the project.

"Instead of continued price declines, offshore wind faces cost increases in orders of magnitude that threaten States' ability to make purchasing decisions," the letter said. "Without federal action, offshore wind deployment in the U.S. is at serious risk of stalling because States' ratepayers may be unable to absorb these significant new costs alone."

New Jersey Republican congressman Jeff Van Drew, a leading opponent of the offshore wind project, applauded the project's cancellation.

"I am thrilled to see that Ørsted has decided to pack up its offshore wind scam and leave South Jersey's beautiful coasts alone," Van Drew said. "A tremendous win for South Jersey residents, our fisherman, and the historic coastline of the Jersey shore."

While Murphy's effort to bring Ørsted wind farms to his state's coastline failed, New Jersey will likely face no shortage of climate activists to drum up support for future projects. That's because Murphy in September unveiled a new taxpayer-funded office that aims to turn public school students into "climate leaders" through the state's Climate Change Education standards, which incorporate mandatory climate change instruction into nearly every K-12 subject.