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Senator Bob Smith congratulates Congressman Donald Norcross on his succession to the U.S. House of Representatives.

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Environment and Energy Committee Chair Bob Smith and Senator Jim Whelan that would permit the Board of Public Utilities to approve qualified wind energy projects located in State waters offshore Atlantic City and would require the BPU to provide a 30-day period for submission of applications cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee today.

“Moving away from fossil fuels towards renewable sources of energy must be our priority if we want to secure a sustainable future, and offshore wind energy is a great place to start as a coastal state,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “We must endeavor to harness the energy off the coast of Atlantic City, where there is great potential for success.”

In 2010, the Legislature passed a major law providing incentives to construct offshore wind energy facilities. One element of that law was a small pilot project in State waters off of Atlantic City in order to gain experience before moving forward with larger projects in federal waters. This bill, S-988, is intended to recognize the intent of the legislature in 2010 to expedite New Jersey’s entry into the offshore wind energy arena.

“New Jersey has the potential to be at the forefront in offshore wind power innovation, especially with the richness of wind resources along the Atlantic City coast, and the Board of Public Utilities must not stand in the way of projects with successful prospects,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic).

Senator Whelan refers to the BPU’s repeated rejection of the Fishermen’s Energy project that proposed a five-turbine wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City in compliance with the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA). Fishermen’s Energy met all permitting requirements and even received a federal grant to begin its project, but the BPU consistently turned down the application for an offshore wind renewable energy certificate (OREC) claiming that project would not meet the cost-benefit test of the 2010 legislation.

“We need to catch up with our counterparts in the world in the development of wind energy farms so our economy and environment can benefit from cleaner energy,” added Senator Whelan.

The bill cleared the Senate Environment and Energy Committee with a vote of 4-1. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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