August 16, 2010

NJ govenor to sign offshore wind energy bill

New Jersey Govenor Chris Christie is expected to sign the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act [view full text of the act] at a press conference on Thursday, jump-starting proposed plans to develop electric-generating turbines off the New Jersey coast, according to the governor's office.

The legislation directs the state Board of Public Utilities to provide financial assistance for projects supporting the offshore wind program and to require, at some point, that a percentage of electricity sold within the Garden State be generated by offshore wind facilities. The goal is to have at least 1,100 mega-watts of electricity coming from the wind projects.

Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno plan to hold a press conference to sign the legislation at the Paulsboro Marine Terminal in Gloucester County, where state authorities additionally expect to foster manufacturing operations that will build the turbines. The bill, approved with bi-partisan support in June, also calls for $100 million in tax credits for companies developing offshore wind.

The state Energy Master Plan calls for the development of 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020. The BPU has received proposals to build wind turbines 12 to 20 miles off the coast from four power companies.

Supporters of the effort contend the legislation includes protections for ratepayers and the environment, and that it holds the potential for furthering economic development and creating jobs.

Environmental groups are somewhat torn on the plan. Many support the development of wind power, while others contend the state has yet to fully insure marine life as well as migrating shorebirds will not be harmed once the rotating blades of the windmills are in operation.

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