TRENTON – Bipartisan legislation Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr., sponsored to promote the development of offshore wind technology and create a new manufacturing sector in the state was today signed by Governor Chris Christie.
The lawmakers said the establishment of in-state manufacturing businesses to build turbines, rotors and other parts needed to harness offshore wind would bring new jobs to the state. Currently, no United States-based facility exists that produces the parts needed for offshore wind projects.
“New Jersey already is a national leader in solar energy production, and now we will have the ability to finally tap into the potential of our offshore winds and become a leader in this emergent technology,” said Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “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.”
The “Offshore Wind Economic Development Act,” creates through the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) an offshore wind renewable energy certificate (OREC) program to require that a percentage of electricity sold in the State be from offshore wind energy – similar to the credits already provided for solar energy. The credits will help push the state to creating 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy.
The Sweeney/Kean measure gives the BPU specific authority to accept applications for qualified offshore wind projects with the goal of helping the state meet the mandate of the Energy Master Plan that calls for the development of 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020 – a target that will require a comprehensive offshore wind program.
“Clean energy technologies will help generate economic growth, now and in the future. Countries like China are already investing heavily and the U.S. should too if it wants to reap the benefits and not fall behind,” Kean stated. “As a matter of principle, we must take this opportunity to use the emerging new energy economy to create jobs and careers right here in New Jersey and not overseas.”
Much like the solar renewable energy credit certificate program (SREC), the OREC system would allow wind energy producers to receive credits that can produce revenues and be used to offset production costs and stabilize energy rates.
Adding to the urgency is the fact that New Jersey is one of several states along the Eastern Seaboard planning offshore wind projects. By creating a New Jersey-based manufacturing sector now means other states’ projects would have to place their orders with businesses based in-state, creating a long-term market that could support hundreds of high paying permanent manufacturing jobs.
The measure was supported by the wind energy industry.