Whelan Bill To Assist Boat Builders In Becoming Green Energy Manufacturers Approved By Economic Growth Committee

Senator Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, speaks on the floor of the State Senate.

Legislation Would Require State Business Action Center To Develop Partnerships With Wind-Energy Sector

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan that would assist New Jersey boat builders who have been hard-hit by the economic recession in making the transition to manufacture parts for windmills was unanimously approved yesterday by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.

“Manufacturers have had to learn to be adaptable and innovative to stay afloat in our current economy. The boat building industry has done just that by creating a plan to reach into a growing segment of the economy – green and renewable energy,” said Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic). “By providing boat manufacturers with the tools necessary to transition to the renewable energy sector, we can encourage job growth in industries that will only expand and grow in years to come.”

The bill, S-1267, would require the New Jersey Business Action Center to assist boat manufacturers in converting or expanding their business operations to manufacture components for wind energy equipment and in developing business partnerships with wind energy equipment manufacturers.

New Jersey’s Business Action Center provides business and entrepreneurs with information about incentives and financing programs, regulatory guidance, site selection services and technical assistance. They also work to attract businesses to locate in New Jersey and to promote tourism in New Jersey.

“New Jersey is already a leader in the solar industry and with hundreds of miles of shoreline, we are an ideal location for off-shore wind turbines and farms. It makes both economic and environmental sense to invest in other forms of renewable energy,” said Senator Whelan. “By developing partnerships between New Jersey manufacturers and the green energy sector, we can encourage the growth of a cottage industry, where wind turbines are designed, built, installed and utilized all in the Garden State.”

Senator Whelan noted that the boat manufacturing sector in southern New Jersey and along the coast has been reeling in recent years as demand for recreational vehicles has lagged as a result of the recent economic downturn. He said that the idea that boat manufacturers could shift to the manufacturing of wind turbine equipment isn’t a new idea – President Barack Obama, in his 2012 State of the Union address, touted a Michigan factory for making just such a shift – and said that encouraging New Jersey boat manufacturers to make the leap to the renewable energy manufacturing industry would allow them to take advantage of the growing wind energy industry blossoming off New Jersey’s coast.

This legislation comes at the heels of numerous energy companies’ interest in building offshore wind farms off the coast of Southern New Jersey and in increasing the number of windmills throughout the Garden State. New Jersey is currently in a race with Massachusetts to house the first offshore wind farm in the United States.

Another of Senator Whelan’s bills that would assist New Jersey boat builders in transitioning to renewable energy development was approved by the Economic Growth Committee last month. S-1209 would qualify New Jersey boat manufacturers to apply for any loan program offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority that supports renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in entering or expanding within the manufacturing stage of commercial development.

S-1267 now heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review. S-1209 is awaiting consideration in the full Senate.