TRENTON, NJ – As the clock ticks down for Congress to extend critical tax credits for wind power, a new report shows that with continued state and federal leadership, New Jersey could be among the first states along the Atlantic seaboard with offshore wind farms.
New Jersey has immense untapped offshore wind energy resources, and the new report “The Turning Point for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy”, written by the National Wildlife Federation and released today by Environment New Jersey, the New Jersey Audubon Society, New Jersey Work Environment Council, and the New Jersey Business Council for Clean Energy, identifies key building blocks that local, state, and federal officials have put in place to usher in a future with offshore wind, including passing the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act.
“In the race up and down the Atlantic to have the first offshore wind project, New Jersey could make history,” said Matt Elliott, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey. “But Governor Christie has more work to do if we hope to stay in the lead. To get us over the finish line so we can start producing pollution-free energy and creating local jobs from offshore wind development, our leaders must act now, first by demanding that Congress extend the offshore wind tax credit before it expires at the end of the year, and second by finalizing an in-state funding mechanism for offshore wind. When it comes to the latter, the Christie Administration is unfortunately over a year and a half late.”
Our reliance on fossil fuels has destroyed some of our most precious landscapes, is contributing to public health problems like asthma and heart attacks from dangerous air pollution, is fueling global warming, and is putting New Jersey’s coastline at risk. Offshore wind provides a cleaner way for New Jersey to meet its energy needs.
For years, New Jersey’s leaders have been laying the groundwork to ramp up offshore wind. The U.S. Department of Interior’s “Smart from the Start” initiative has identified an area off the coast of New Jersey in federal waters that is suitable for development, and after a sound environmental and stakeholder review process, has opened up the area to take lease proposals. Developers have expressed interest on 11 proposals, and leases will be granted through a competitive auction process. In addition, in July of this year, Fisherman’s Energy received its final permit for a 25-megawatt offshore wind project in state waters approximately three miles off the coast of Atlantic City.
For New Jersey, offshore wind will be an important resource to help the state meet its goal of producing 22.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2021.
"New Jersey Audubon congratulates the National Wildlife Federation and the many partners who contributed to the production of this valuable report which calls for continued progress towards responsible offshore wind development in the Atlantic," said Eric Stiles, President and CEO of New Jersey Audubon. "We must move forward with appropriately sited offshore wind as a critical component of a broader strategy to mitigate climate change and protect our wildlife."
The Atlantic coast is an ideal location for appropriately sited offshore wind energy because of its high electricity demand and population density along the coast. Along the Atlantic coast alone, reaching the Department of Energy’s (DOE) goal of 54 gigawatts of offshore wind power would reduce carbon pollution by the equivalent of taking roughly 18 million cars off the road. Meeting this benchmark would also generate $200 billion in new economic activity while creating more than 43,000 permanent, high-paying jobs in manufacturing, construction, engineering, operations, and maintenance, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
The broad base of support for offshore wind was demonstrated in late July when more than two-hundred environmental organizations, businesses, and local and state officials from up and down the Atlantic coast wrote a letter to federal officials calling for bold action to accelerate the development of offshore wind.
"Wind energy can create good New Jersey jobs, as well as move America toward energy independence and less pollution. The time for action by the Christie Administration is now,” said Rick Engler, Executive Director of the Work Environment Council, a coalition of over 70 labor and environmental groups.
New Jersey and national partners including business leaders, local and state elected officials, labor groups and environmental and clean energy organizations released the new report today up and down the Atlantic Coast. These groups call on state and federal officials to take the following steps to ensure the swift, environmentally sound ramp-up of offshore wind in the Atlantic:
• Set a bold goal for offshore wind energy development in the Atlantic Ocean to provide clear leadership and vision.
• Take decisive action to advance offshore wind energy development goals, including helping confront the financial challenges facing this new industry by extending the federal offshore wind investment tax credit, among other policies.
• Move forward with swift implementation of New Jersey’s Offshore Wind Economic Development Act – a law designed to establish offshore wind renewable energy credits (ORECs) for New Jersey wind farms.
• Ensure that offshore wind projects are sited, constructed, and operated responsibly in order to protect wildlife and avoid conflicts with other ocean uses.
• Increase stakeholder coordination and public engagement.