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Whelan Bill To Help Transition Boat Industry To Renewable Energy Manufacturing Approved In Senate

Bill Would Allow Boat Manufacturers to Qualify for State-Backed Loans to Transition into Renewable Energy Industry

TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would allow boat manufacturers in New Jersey to qualify for State-backed loans to transition into the renewable energy industry was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 37-0.

“New Jersey’s green energy sector is on the rise, and many existing manufacturers are looking to transition to the renewable energy industry,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “When it comes to wind energy, our State’s boat manufacturers are uniquely positioned to easily make the jump to manufacturing wind energy harvesting equipment and wind turbines. This bill creates an incentive to help them make the leap from boat manufacturing to renewable energy, and ensures that, as demand grows for renewable energy equipment, that such equipment is being manufactured right here in New Jersey.”

The bill, S-1209, would qualify New Jersey boat manufacturers to apply for any loan program offered by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) that supports renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in entering or expanding within the manufacturing stage of commercial development. The bill would specifically apply to the “Edison Innovation Clean Energy Manufacturing Fund” (CEMF), a fund that the EDA administers in collaboration with the Board of Public Utilities. In order for a boat manufacturer to be eligible for a loan from the CEMF, it must use the loan to manufacture renewable energy or energy efficiency systems, products, or technology.

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 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 is an issue of survival for boat manufacturers which have struggled with stagnant sales during a difficult economy,” said Senator Whelan, who met with boat manufacturers last year to begin developing this bill. “People aren’t buying recreational watercraft like they used to, but there will always be demand for cheap, renewable energy. By engaging the boat manufacturing industry in the manufacturing and development of renewable energy technology, we can ensure a cottage industry for renewable energy here in New Jersey, where equipment is manufactured here, installed here, and New Jersey ratepayers see the benefit.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration.

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