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Whelan To Introduce Bill Package To Help Boat Builders Transition To Green Economy

Legislation Would Encourage Job Growth in Wind Energy Industry

TRENTON – Senator Jim Whelan today announced he will introduce a package of bills to encourage and assist New Jersey boat builders who have been hard-hit by the economic recession in making the transition to manufacture parts for windmills. The package of bills came from ideas submitted during a roundtable discussion held last month with members from the boat building community at the Egg Harbor City Hall.

“The economic downturn has hit many industries throughout New Jersey hard and the boat builders are no exception,” Senator Whelan (D-Atlantic) said. “Boatyards throughout Atlantic County and the entire New Jersey coastline are sitting vacant and we have an opportunity to utilize these businesses and to restore and create new jobs. By transitioning many of the businesses into manufacturers of renewable energy equipment such as windmills, we can encourage job growth in a cutting-edge industry. These bills would provide the needed incentives and resources for our regional boat builders to partner with the energy industry.

“The legislation would also provide incentives for members of the renewable energy industry including those in the wind industry to relocate to New Jersey and to bring jobs with them,” Senator Whelan added. “These bills would assure these companies that New Jersey is serious about expanding our renewable energy sector. By reducing the exorbitant costs associated with shipping large windmills across the country or even around the world to New Jersey for installation, wind industry companies would see New Jersey as an attractive and economical place to set up shop.”

The package of bills includes legislation that would:

• Require state agencies to assist boat builders in making the conversion and expansion of their business into the renewable energy sector and to help them partner with wind energy companies;

• Direct the EDA to provide low interest loans to boat builders for startup capital to help purchase equipment or for other transitional costs to assist in converting to the windmill business;

• Provide a sales tax exemption on any materials or equipment used in the manufacturing of wind energy equipment; and

• Provide special training grants through the Department of Labor to assist boat builders in making the transition to manufacturing windmill components.

“Currently most components of windmills are produced overseas in places like Denmark and China. Rather than importing these parts from all over the globe to sit off the shores of Atlantic City and throughout New Jersey, we can produce them right here at home, creating jobs in the Garden State,” Senator Whelan said. “Since many of the skills involved in making boat parts translate directly over to making windmill parts, this conversion just makes sense.”

This proposed 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.

“By transitioning boat builders into growing industries such as alternative and renewable energy, we can offer a path to long-term economic sustainability for many of these struggling businesses,” Senator Whelan said.

The package of bills will be introduced at the next Senate quorum call.

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