The Answer is Blowing in the Wind – NJ Governor Signs Offshore Wind Economic Development Act
On August 19, 2010, just over two months after identical bills were introduced in the NJ Assembly and Senate, Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law. By creating offshore wind renewable energy credits and financial assistance to qualified projects, it is hoped that the new law will spur economic development and job growth in the state.
The new law establishes an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program that will require a percentage of electricity sold in NJ to come from offshore wind energy. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities will be authorized to accept and approve applications for qualified offshore wind projects. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority will have the authority to provide financial assistance to qualified offshore wind projects and associated equipment manufacturers and assembly facilities in the state.
The new law represents another step in implementing the energy policy outlined by the governor on April 20, 2010, making renewable energy a key component of New Jersey’s strategy for economic recovery and growth.
Commenting on the law, Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney stated,
The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico opened our eyes to the need for clean, sustainable energy that we can produce here at home. Not only will this law make new Jersey even more energy independent, it will also bring vital new jobs to the state at a time when we need them the most.
On June 8, 2010, New Jersey joined the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium with nine other east coast states in order to facilitate federal-state cooperation for commercial wind development in the Atlantic Ocean.
Because the components of wind turbines are large and heavy, high transportation costs make local manufacturing more cost competitive, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Currently, 60% of wind energy components are manufactured in the United States. New Jersey is hoping that the cost competitiveness, coupled with tax and financial incentives will make the state a desirable location for investment in and development of such manufacturing and assembly facilities, creating jobs with them.