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Sweeney-Smith Bill Promoting Wind Energy Advances

Legislation Would Jump Start Fisherman’s Energy Project  

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate President Steve Sweeney and Senator Bob Smith, the chairman of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee, that would help to jump-start an offshore wind energy program that has been dormant for close to eight years was approved by a Senate committee today.

The bill, S-1217, will update the law to fully authorize the process to approve a wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City. The measure would allow the BPU to approve an amended application for a qualified wind energy project offshore in New Jersey territorial waters – more specifically the Fisherman’s Energy Project.

“The Fisherman’s Energy Project off the coast of Atlantic City is a ready-to-go project that will create jobs and diversify our energy portfolio,” said Senator Sweeney. “It’s time to get moving again to truly harness the potential we have in New Jersey for offshore wind. New Jersey should be a leader on what is now a growing sector of the economy that generates good jobs at the same time it reduces pollution and other threats to the environment.”

The bill would allow the BPU to provide for the submission of an amended application for the qualified wind energy project that the board is already authorized to approve and would require the board to act within 90 days of completion of an amended application for projects already submitted.

“The wind project off the coast of Atlantic City should have been constructed by now, providing clean energy, creating jobs and pumping money into the economy,” Senator Smith said. “The eight-year failure of the BPU to adopt the required rules and implement the offshore wind law led to years of inaction on a program designed to produce environmental and economic benefits for New Jersey.”

This first project is a key component in the development of a full program which will eventually have 3500 MW of offshore wind power, Senator Smith noted.

Senator Sweeney and Senator Smith repeatedly criticized the BPU for its chronic failure to implement the law by adopting an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program, which would allow wind developers to move forward with manufacturing and installation. Fisherman’s Energy has had a project ready to go in the waters off the coast of Atlantic City, but the BPU continually refused to give its approval.

Senator Sweeney authored the 2010 law creating the Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program that has not been implemented because of the failure of the Board of Public Utilities to follow through with required regulations or to approve a pilot program off the coast of Atlantic City.

The bill was approved 8-3 by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.