Bill Paves the Way for Wind Energy Facility Off Steel Pier
TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which authorizes the construction of wind energy facilities on existing and future piers in Atlantic City and statewide was signed into law last week by Governor Chris Christie.
“Renewable energy offers a unique opportunity to boost our State’s economy and be responsible stewards of the environment at the same time,” said Senator Whelan, D-Atlantic. “As a result, we’re seeing a lot of attention being paid to the green energy market, and New Jersey is already making inroads in terms of off-shore wind energy generation. This new law will help propel us even further, making New Jersey a national leader in renewable energy and allowing us to expand our green energy capacity and put more people to work.”
The new law, S-212, authorizes wind energy facilities to be constructed on existing and future piers within 500 feet of the mean high water line, so long as the projects meet other regulatory requirements set for wind turbines. The bill amends Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations under the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA) which only allows for water-dependent energy facilities to be constructed within 500 feet of the mean high water line. The bill will ensure that wind energy production remains as an accessory use to the other purposes of the pier, in order to maintain that no new piers will be constructed for the sole purpose of serving as a platform for a wind energy facility.
The bill was originally inspired by a proposal to build five windmills on Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier, a 1,000-foot long amusement pier on the boardwalk. The five wind energy turbines were estimated to provide enough power for all the rides and amusements on the pier.
“Atlantic City’s Steel Pier is an important part of our city’s history and culture, and with an investment in green energy generation, could play an important part of our future,” said Senator Whelan, a former mayor of Atlantic City. “By allowing the Steel Pier to act as a test site for wind energy production on piers Statewide, we can make Atlantic City the capital of New Jersey’s emerging renewable energy industry and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. This project will be a great economic boon for the people of Atlantic City, creating jobs and cheaper, cleaner energy, and I look forward to more energy independence and economic activity along our boardwalk.”
Senator Whelan noted that this new law, in conjunction with other efforts to expand New Jersey’s renewable energy sector, will position the Garden State as a national hub for the growing “green economy.” Last August, the Governor signed legislation sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem, to expand the State’s wind energy manufacturing industry, and ensure that wind energy resources and generators are built in-State. Another bill sponsored by Senator Whelan, which is currently under consideration by the Governor, would allow for solar generation facilities to be constructed on top of closed landfills and quarries.
“We’re doing our part in New Jersey to expand the green energy industry and put people back to work,” said Senator Whelan. “Wind generation on our State’s piers is a component in a larger strategy to promote renewable energy and take advantage of this cutting edge technology to boost our economy Statewide.”
The bill received final legislative approval in the Senate in December.