Just across the Delaware River are the runways for Philadelphia International Airport, uncharacteristically quiet in this time of COVID-19.
This is the port where a company called EEW will soon begin building a factory to make the gigantic monopiles that hold up offshore wind turbines.
Ørsted North America, which is building the state’s first offshore wind farm about 15 miles southeast of Atlantic City in federal waters, has a contract with EEW to make the structures. EEW has said it will provide 500 union jobs here.
Those jobs represent the start of a new industry that has promised thousands of high-paying jobs to people who live throughout South Jersey, where the median income lags that of the state as a whole.
Energy from offshore wind is going to be expensive, said state Senate President Steve Sweeney, who worked for decades to make the port a reality, along with Assemblyman John Burzichelli, D-Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, and the Gloucester County Improvement Authority.
“If New Jersey ratepayers are going to be paying for that, there needs to be a benefit with jobs,” said Sweeney, a former ironworker who did precast structural steel work like building bridges.
People are counting on that influx of good paying jobs throughout South Jersey. There are plans that the sections made here will be put together into 400-foot-tall monopiles by as many as 1,500 workers at the New Jersey Wind Port to be built in Salem County; and that Atlantic County will be the center of hundreds more jobs in constructing the wind turbines, maintaining and servicing them.
Ørsted won a competition to build the state’s first 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind generation, in part by promising economic development for the state. Ratepayers will subsidize the construction and running of the farm for 20 years.
“This is the first major new port on the Delaware in 50 years,” said George Strachan, executive director of the GCIA. “There has been a bigger vision here” that has taken decades to come to reality.
It used to be a vacant brownfields site, the leftovers of a former oil tank farm and other industrial uses.
“It looked like a moon filled with craters,” Burzichelli said. “We raised it up 11 feet, for a 100-year flood.”
At a cost of about $400 million, the South Jersey Port Corp. has created a modern port with room for manufacturing facilities, and the union jobs they bring.
It has built a special dock on pilings, as required by the state Department of Environmental Protection, with two berths for ships on the river and one on Mantua Creek.
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