New Jersey Announces $3.7 Million In Funding For Offshore Wind Research and Monitoring Initiative


TRENTON – New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Shawn M. LaTourette and New Jersey Board of Public Utilities President Christine Guhl-Sadovy today announced the award of nearly $3.7 million in funding for scientific research projects being undertaken to ensure ecologically responsible development of offshore wind energy, an integral part of the Murphy Administration’s climate change response and resilience strategy.

Projects newly funded through the state’s ongoing Research and Monitoring Initiative (RMI) include an aerial survey of whales, a whale satellite-tagging study, a study of seasonal water-mixing dynamics, the expansion of an existing tracking system for birds and bats, and a study focused on sea turtle behavior and health.

“Development of offshore wind energy is critical to mitigating and responding to the worsening impacts of climate change,” said Commissioner LaTourette. “These projects continue to advance our collection of important baseline scientific information that is necessary to ensure the responsible development and operation of offshore wind facilities.”

“As we continue to pursue a 100% clean energy economy by 2035, it’s imperative that we not only protect the interests of our ratepayers but safeguard the vitality of our marine ecosystems as well,” said NJBPU President Guhl-Sadovy. “The Research Monitoring Initiative is a crucial piece of our comprehensive efforts to responsibly develop New Jersey’s nation-leading offshore wind industry.”

The RMI, jointly administered by the DEP and BPU, employs a rigorous scientific approach to coordinate research on potential impacts of the development, operation, and eventual decommissioning of offshore wind energy to ensure the state’s offshore wind energy goals are achieved responsibly and with as little impact on natural resources as possible.

Project details


  • Mid-Atlantic cold pool modeling study:  Rutgers University has been awarded $97,462 to study the effects of offshore wind turbines and foundations on the Mid-Atlantic cold pool, a unique oceanographic feature important to marine ecosystems. The cold pool is characterized by a cold bottom layer of water that develops in the spring and breaks down in the fall as seasonal storms and high winds mix the thermal layers of the water column. Researchers will be using various analytical models and environmental data collected by RMI-funded Slocum undersea gliders in their evaluations.
  • Whale aerial surveys:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries has been awarded $47,383 to extend seasonal aerial whale surveys by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center into the coastal region off northern New Jersey. These surveys will contribute to regional efforts being conducted for endangered North Atlantic right whales, and other whales, from New York to North Carolina. Trained protected species observers will utilize small aircraft to visually identify and record data about whale species. Data will be shared with other researchers conducting assessments of seasonal habitat use, distribution and abundance. Photographs of North Atlantic right whales will be used for individual identification and tracking.
  • Whale satellite tagging study:  Rutgers University has been awarded $929,593 to evaluate the movements and habitat use of humpback whales and fin whales in and around the New Jersey offshore wind lease areas. Both fin and humpback whales are commonly found year-round in waters off New Jersey. Whales will be affixed with satellite transmitters that will allow researchers to better understand their ecology and behavior, such as feeding patterns and movements. Researchers will also assess where there are potential risks associated with time spent by whales in wind lease areas or major shipping lanes to inform any potential mitigation efforts if necessary. 
  • Bat and bird tracking system expansion: A collaboration of research entities led by the American Bird Conservancy has been awarded $1.3 million to expand an existing regional network that tracks the movements of radio-tagged birds and bats. This funding will result in the deployment and maintenance of 10 new land based Motus receiver stations and 10 ocean buoy stations as part of the Motus Wildlife Tracking System in strategic locations throughout New Jersey and offshore. The expansion will improve regional network coverage and provide baseline data to aid researchers in assessing species migration routes to and through New Jersey airspace and offshore wind lease areas.
  • Sea turtle study: The Coonamessett Farm Foundation has been awarded $1.03 million to evaluate baseline preconstruction migration routes of sea turtles, including loggerheads, greens, kemps ridleys, and leatherbacks. The Coonamessett Farm Foundation will tag turtles off North Carolina and Virginia before they migrate through New Jersey. The researchers will also monitor foraging and dive behavior of turtles within New Jersey offshore wind lease areas using video tags and remotely operated vehicles, known as ROVs.  Biological samples will be collected to evaluate variability in baseline preconstruction blood chemistry (such as stress hormones), diet, and parasites. 

RMI projects are selected to address the short-term highest priority research needs identified with input from subject matter experts; stakeholders, including a variety of state, federal, fishing industry, and environmental organizations; and the New Jersey Environmental Resources Offshore Wind Working Group.

Launched in 2021, RMI’s ongoing research is contributing to a regional body of work being developed by federal partners such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); regional entities such as the Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative for Offshore Wind and the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance; and state partners with shared ocean interests from Maine to North Carolina.

To date, RMI projects have received $13 million in funding through the BPU’s second offshore wind energy solicitation. On Jan. 24, the BPU awarded a combined 3,742 MW of offshore wind capacity through its Third Offshore Wind Energy Solicitation, making an additional $39 million available to support RMI projects. 
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