New $350M

New $350 Million New Jersy port touted as next step

New $350 Million New Jersy port touted as next step for state to lead in wind-power production. Gov. Phil Murphy leaned in as he shook hands with state Senate President Steve Sweeney on Thursday morning and said, “Big win for the home team.”

Sweeney returned the grin and moments later the two readied themselves for their real “grip and grin” moment.

They were at a groundbreaking for the New Jersey Wind Port in Lower Alloways Creek, Salem County. The pair touted the project as a way to position the state as a major offshore wind hub and staging place for assembly and transport of 900-foot structures needed for each ocean wind turbine. The state Economic Development Authority has estimated the total cost of construction would be between $300 and $400 million.

New Jersey has already approved the Ocean Wind I development of 30 of these giant wind turbines to be installed 15 miles off the coast of Ocean City, Cape May County. At least two more wind farm projects are in development and moving through the legislature, and other states along the East Coast are also following suit.

The Lower Alloways site is slated to be an assembly point for the windmill tower, which also includes rotor, nacelle and blade. The structures are moved in a vertical position, are too heavy for land transport and must be able to clear power lines and bridges. That was one reason the remote site in Lower Alloways Creek, at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, was selected, Murphy and Sweeney said.

But Assemblyman John Burzichelli, who represents the 3rd legislative district, along with Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro and Sweeney in the Senate, all Democrats, provided some extra insight into just how hard fought the battle to open the port was.

“We didn’t get here by accident,” Burzichelli said to an assembled crowd of about 100 outside of the PSEG Nuclear’s Hope Creek Generating Station where the port will be built. “This didn’t just fall out of the sky. It came together almost in a fist fight at times.

“But it came together. Some of those meetings were uncomfortable. And some of the words that were exchanged didn’t have more than four letters. But they were effective. It was a language that broke down international barriers.”

The Danish power company Orsted has won approvals to build Ocean Winds I and II and another company has approval for a project called Atlantic Shores. Ocean Wind II and Atlantic Shores were approved by the state Board of Public Utilities in July. The projects are expected to produce 2,658 megawatts of clean power by 2029. The approvals were the single largest award of offshore wind capacity in the nation to date, and it more than triples the Garden State’s commitment to the budding industry.

Ocean Winds I was approved in 2019 and will generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity when it becomes operational in 2024.

All of the projects have committed to using the New Jersey Wind Port and the Port of Paulsboro, which will assemble the monopile poles for the turbines. That port, just up the Delaware River from Lower Alloways Creek, also in Sweeney, Burzichelli and Taliaferro’s district, began renovations several years ago to build reinforced piers to handle heavy break bulk cargo like this.

“People from different parts of the world understood that when you said something in New Jersey, it meant a little something different than somewhere other than New Jersey,” Burzichelli told the crowd which responded with a laugh.

Federal Department of Labor Sec. Marty Walsh was also on hand Thursday for the groundbreaking. He hailed a project labor agreement to use union labor at the port and said President Joe Biden supports the alternative energy push in New Jersey, and an infrastructure bill making its way through Congress will help fund more projects like this.

The state has locked in more than 3,700 megawatts of future power from offshore wind, enough to power roughly 1.5 million homes according to the BPU. The two projects are expected to create 7,000 new jobs, and bring $3.5 billion in benefits to New Jersey’s economy.

Construction on the wind port is expected to begin this year and start operations no later than early 2024, a state news release said.

A Millville man accused of pointing a loaded handgun at three police officers will remain jailed pending trial, a judge ruled Thursday afternoon.

His attorney argued that his client didn’t know the men were police.

Millville Police were conducting surveillance on Dante Hayes, 31, in the early hours of Aug. 28, according to First Assistant Prosecutor Harold Shapiro. The hearing did not include details about why police were watching him.

As Hayes drove his 2017 Audi through Millville, he allegedly tried to evade plainclothes officers traveling in an unmarked vehicle.

“At approximately 1:48 a.m., the Audi stopped suddenly and the driver abruptly exited the vehicle,” Shapiro said.

He allegedly pointed a handgun at the three officers in the vehicle.

The cops were wearing badges, duty belts and tactical vests with “POLICE” in large reflective lettering and identified themselves as police officers. They repeatedly ordered him to drop the gun, but he took off running while still armed, Shapiro said.

He was arrested a half hour later a short distance away. Police recovered the handgun they claim he brandished — described as a Glock with a high-capacity magazine containing hollow-point ammunition — less than an hour later under a child’s electric scooter sitting in the yard of a residence they say was along the path of the pursuit.

Two of the three officers involved in the incident were able to identify Hayes from prior contacts, Shapiro said.

Hayes was charged with three counts of assault, along with hindering apprehension, tampering with evidence, and various weapons offenses, including a first-degree count of possession of a weapon by someone previously convicted of homicide.

In 2010, Hayes was sentenced to eight years in prison on a reckless manslaughter charge for the 2008 shooting death of Zebedee Irving in Bridgeton.

Shapiro clarified a detail from the affidavit of probable cause in the case, which indicated that police stopped Hayes’ vehicle, noting that Hayes in fact stopped his car and confronted officers before they could stop him.

Defense attorney Durann Neil denounced the police officers’ actions, saying Hayes had no way of knowing the people following him were really police officers, saying he tried to evade the unmarked vehicle behind him and even ran a red light in the process.

When they noticed Hayes trying to elude them, the officers should have activated lights or done something to make it clear it was police officers tailing him, Neil said.

The officers turned on their high beams when the defendant exited his vehicle, making it impossible for him to see the men, Neil said.

“If high beams are pointed at you at 2 in the morning, you can’t see the individual on the other side,” the attorney stated.

After the men identified themselves as police, Hayes ran because he didn’t know if they were really cops, Neil said, arguing that the incident occurred in a dangerous part of town.

“The officers are fundamentally lying,” Neil said of the allegations that his client was armed, and claimed they are trying to cover up their own botched surveillance efforts by claiming Hayes had a gun.

Superior Court Judge Cristen P. D’Arrigo asked Neil why the officers had a reason to lie.

“Because they stalked a young black male at 2 in the morning and didn’t identify themselves as police officers after he tried to elude them and avoid them throughout the city,” the attorney responded.

No video of the incident exists, Neil noted.

“We understand that the court has to give deference to the officers, but it also has to give deference to individuals that they’re stalking in the middle of the night because they believe Mr. Hayes is some sort of kingpin or whatever they may believe,” Neil said. “There’s no direct evidence that he had a gun.”

On the issue of detention, a public safety assessment recommended that Hayes remain jailed pending trial.

Shapiro argued in favor of detention, citing the severity of the charges, the fact that the defendant faces a potential life sentence if convicted and his violent criminal history, which also includes aggravated assault of a corrections officer.

Neil countered that his client is a lifelong county resident, supports his family, has maintained a job for three years and was on his way home from work when the incident occurred. He has also worked as a leader in addressing issues of gang violence in Millville, according to Neil, including communication with members of the county prosecutor’s office as part of those efforts.

The hearing then veered into a discussion over Hayes’ alleged gang ties.

Shapiro said he was unaware of any communication Hayes had with the prosecutor’s office about gang violence prevention. The prosecutor then referenced the report of one of the officers involved in the Millville encounter with Hayes, “where it reflects the officer had a department-issued rifle due to Dante Hayes’ violent criminal history and being a known Grape Street Crip member.

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