New law positions NJ as leader in offshore wind power

New Jersey’s plans to become a leader in offshore wind power received a boost on Thursday when Governor Christie signed a bill that would require the state to eventually generate enough electricity from wind to power 250,000 to 330,000 homes.
The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act also provides tax credits to companies that make wind turbines and other components.

The signing drew praise from both environmentalists and businesses looking to build turbines off the coast of Atlantic City. But the projects have moved slowly through a series of state and federal regulatory hurdles since receiving initial approval from the Board of Public Utilities two years ago.

The group of Democratic and Republican legislators who sponsored the bill said they hope it can help those projects, but also provide more incentives for other companies to join.
“This law will help provide the state with the short-term economic boost it needs to help us more quickly recover from the recession,” said Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, D-Englewood. “And it will provide the long-term economic and environmental stability New Jersey needs to generate green jobs and remain a leader in clean-energy technology.”
The bill directs the BPU to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate program that calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore wind energy. The percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts. One megawatt of electricity generated from wind can power 250 to 300 homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
PSEG and a partner company, along with NRG Bluewater Wind of Princeton and Fishermen’s Energy of Cape May, had anticipated constructing almost 300 turbines by 2012 or 2013 off Atlantic City. But the timeline may be extended a few years as the federal Minerals Management Service needs to scrutinize the environmental impact and engineering feasibility before issuing permits.
In June, a Department of Environmental Protection report showed that offshore turbines would have minimal impact on New Jersey’s southern coast. PSEG plans to install a 100-foot-long meteorological buoy off Atlantic City by the end of this year for further testing. It would then have to reapply to the BPU for approval in 2011, a spokeswoman said Thursday.
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