Van Drew, Albano And Milam Urge Corzine And Regulators To Pursue NJ Businesses For Wind Farms

Proposal for Small Wind Farm – 8 Turbines – Within NJ Waters Could Make State First in Nation to Harvest Off-Shore Wind Energy

CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE – First District Legislators, Senator Jeff Van Drew and Assemblymen Nelson Albano and Matthew Milam, today applauded Governor Corzine’s calls for triple the energy output to be produced by offshore wind farms by the year 2020, and urged State regulators to consider wind farm proposals from local businesses as part of the State’s renewable energy solution.

“Governor Corzine’s plans for the role of off-shore wind energy in New Jersey are going to have nation-wide and world-wide implications,” said Senator Van Drew. “If this is done the right way, it could be a great economic opportunity for South Jersey, and New Jersey will be the first-in-the-world to harvest significant amounts of energy from off-shore wind farms. However, to make these plans – and the Governor’s energy goals – a reality, we’re going to have to reach a critical mass, and open this up to other bidders.”

“Allowing Jersey Shore families and businesses to take advantage of alternative power with true Jersey Shore ties would be ideal,” said Assemblyman Albano. “We have the minds and manpower right here to help us achieve energy independence. Putting South Jersey’s companies to work on projects of such importance to our region and our future simply makes sense.”

On Monday, Governor Corzine held a media event – which Senator Van Drew attended – in Atlantic City, where he announced a plan to triple the energy goal produced by off-shore wind farms in the next decade. Last week, the State Board of Public Utilities (BPU) voted to officially recognize Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE) as the recipient of a $4 million incentive grant to begin construction on the State’s first wind farm. However, $15 million is still available in grants to companies looking to build off-shore wind farms, and Governor Corzine seemed receptive to the idea of allowing other companies to compete for the remaining grant money.

“It will take much more than one wind farm to power New Jersey into the years ahead,” said Milam. “There is certainly going to be enough work that will have to be done that South Jersey’s home-grown businesses will undoubtedly be needed to pitch in. Expanding these opportunities to more companies will mean more good ‘green’ jobs for our region.”

The lawmakers, who have been monitoring the three different off-shore wind energy proposals which were under consideration for the BPU grant, said they were particularly interested in a project proposed by a consortium of local commercial fishermen. The Fishermen’s Energy of New Jersey proposal would develop a small wind farm of eight turbines with Jersey roots less than 3 miles off the Shore, meaning that it would be within New Jersey waters, and not subject to federal regulations like other proposals which are further out to sea. The legislators’ noted that by keeping the proposed wind farm closer to the Shore, the project has the potential to be built quicker, since it wouldn’t have to wait for federal clearance to begin construction.

“Fishermen’s Energy is really an exciting proposal,” said Senator Van Drew. “It would be built and maintained by commercial fishermen who know and rely on the environment, and could lead to more local jobs in the installation and manufacturing of the windmills. It would also give us a jump-start on other states and projects which are looking to build further out to sea.”

“Few people have a better understanding of the waters off South Jersey’s coast than commercial fishermen,” said Assemblyman Milam. “Fisherman’s Energy would be able to use their first-hand knowledge of the region and put it to work to create a viable, sensible system for harvesting the wind.”

The legislators noted that, ultimately, the specific companies and proposals are less important than the overall goal – cleaner, cheaper energy which would reduce our nation’s dependence on foreign oil. They said that, particularly at a time of economic uncertainty, investment in renewable energy is more important to families struggling with soaring energy bills.

“Regardless of which project gets green-lighted first, the most important thing is that we commit ourselves to making all this talk about wind power a reality,” said Assemblyman Albano.