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 unanimously approved today by the Senate Economic Growth Committee.
“New Jersey’s green energy industry is growing, and many manufacturers are looking to make the jump into the renewable energy sector,” said Senator Whelan. “Particularly when it comes to wind energy, boat manufacturers could very easily transition their factories and employees to take part in the expanding demand for renewable energy equipment. This bill would allow our State’s boat manufacturing industry to diversify and remain relevant in the 21st century economy.”
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 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 for the growing wind energy industry blossoming off New Jersey’s coast.
“This is a matter of survival for our State’s boat manufacturers, who have been struggling under tough economic conditions,” said Senator Whelan, who met with boat manufacturers last year to discuss the possibility of creating a program to help them transition to renewable energy manufacturing. “By engaging this industry in the manufacturing and development of renewable energy technology, we could create a cottage industry where equipment is manufactured in New Jersey, installed in New Jersey, and New Jersey electric ratepayers reap the benefits. At the same time, it’s another step in the right direction in terms of advancing New Jersey as a national and international leader in the green energy revolution.”
The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.