Governor Chris Christie
New Jersey State House
P.O. Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625
To Governor Christie: August 19, 2015
On behalf of the organizations, businesses, and elected leaders signed below – representing hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans – we urge you to make a strong commitment to capturing the immense wind energy resource off our Shore. Climate change poses an urgent threat to coastal and low-lying communities, and New Jersey – from the Gold Coast to the Delaware Bayshore – is no exception. To protect our health, wildlife, and economy – and the quality of life of future generations, we must reduce pollution and launch a new clean energy chapter for America.
When you signed the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act (OWEDA) into law five years ago today on August 19, 2010, you said: “Developing New Jersey’s renewable energy resources and industry is critical to our state’s manufacturing and technology future. My Administration will maintain a strong commitment to utilizing energy as industry in our efforts to make our State a home for growth, as well as a national leader in the windpower movement.” We couldn’t agree more. But in the last five years, we’ve seen little progress, while other states have started to move ahead. Barges carrying off-shore wind turbines passed the Jersey Shore this summer – on the way to Rhode Island as the construction has begun off Block Island of the nation’s first off-shore wind farm. New Jersey should have been the first, but without investing in off-shore wind, New Jersey won’t be able to meet its clean energy goals.
Investing in this pollution-free energy source with no fuel costs can help us reduce pollution and boost our local economies. And because offshore wind blows strongest during times of peak energy demand - afternoons, winter cold snaps and summer heat waves - it can diversify our energy portfolio with large amounts of valuable, clean power just when we need it most.
Countries around the world are already reaping the economic and environmental benefits of offshore wind power. In Europe, this booming industry currently supports 70,000 long-term, quality jobs. Now, the U.S. can benefit from more than 20 years of lessons learned across the Atlantic, including technology advancements that have lowered costs and enable development in areas far offshore where the stronger wind resource can deliver greater environmental and economic benefits.
New Jersey is uniquely situated to be able to serve as an off-shore wind industry hub for the entire East Coast. Even with the lack of progress over the last five years, South Jersey and manufacturing centers like Paulsboro are still well- situated. A wind turbine manufacturing facility is projected to create more than 1,000 jobs and an additional $100 million in economic benefits.
State leaders play a critical role in advancing offshore wind power off their shores. The federal government has made significant progress in recent years identifying appropriate locations for offshore wind development, including the July 2014 proposal of a notice for sale for 344,000 acres that are ideal for off-shore wind off of Atlantic City. If fully developed, the area could support up to 3,400 MW of off-shore wind energy which would power 1.2 million homes. We call on you to commit to the following actions and move New Jersey toward realizing a clean energy future:
- Fulfill the goal for offshore wind power in New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan (EMP) of 3,000 MW and in the OWEDA legislation you signed into law, which required 1,100 MW. As states move forward with strategies to implement the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, off-shore wind power offers a unique and scalable pollution-free power source to meet local carbon emission reduction targets. New Jersey will need to reduce emissions close to a quarter over the next 15 years – off-shore wind is the best way to do that.
- Implement policies that ensure a competitive market for offshore wind power by ordering the Board to Public Utilities to release the Off-Shore Renewable Energy Credit (OREC) proposal, as required under the 2010 off-shore wind legislation. This is a crucial step in allowing the state to move forward with the off-shore wind leasing process. There is strong interest in New Jersey’s Wind Energy Areas, but the auction process for the Department of Interior leases will be obviously hampered without an OREC system in place, and it will not be possible to meet the goals of OWEDA or the state EMP without action by the BPU. The news last week that the BPU will be hiring an independent consultant to assist with the OREC rules is welcome, but only if the BPU commits to an aggressive timeline with deadlines to implement OWEDA and revises the Energy Master Plan to reflect that new timeline.
- Green light the Fishermen’s Energy pilot off-shore wind project off Atlantic City. Order the Board of Public Utilities to reconsider their opposition. Previous decisions by the BPU have negated the importance of the federal Department of Energy $50 million plus grant and cast aspersions on Fishermen’s Energy financing, despite the stamp of approval from the Ratepayer Advocate. The extraordinary chain of events that has lead Fishermen’s Energy to need to file legal action against the BPU for failure to greenlight a project that met significant benchmarks is hard to imagine if New Jersey wants to move forward on off-shore wind.
- Ensure an efficient, transparent, and environmentally responsible offshore wind leasing process that protects wildlife, including marine mammals, sea turtles and migratory birds.
- Recruit an off-shore wind OEM manufacturer to locate in South Jersey and to serve New Jersey and neighboring states on the Atlantic Seaboard. Market the state’s port facilities and capacity, and use the economic analysis done of South Jersey ports, including Paulsboro, to use in recruiting and develop a plan to fill any gaps that may be identified.
- Invest in key research, initiatives, and infrastructure needed to spur offshore wind development. Support a budget that provides at least $1 million per year for offshore wind research and infrastructure development from the Societal Benefits Charge funding. Support the federal renewal of the long term investment tax credit (ITC) for wind power.
New Jersey’s citizens are depending on you to ensure a clean energy future. We strongly urge you to recognize just how much we have to gain from harnessing our off-shore wind power potential in a manner that protects wildlife and their habitats throughout every stage of development. Already, other states like Rhode Island are moving ahead with off-shore wind farm construction occurring as New Jersey stalls. For the sake of our coastal resiliency, air pollution, local jobs, increased investments in economic development and manufacturing, wildlife, and future generations of New Jerseyans, we urge your renewed support of this promising clean energy solution, and encourage you to end delays to bring this transformational new power source online.
Senator Jim Whelan
Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo
Senator Linda Greenstein
Assemblyman Dan Benson
Senator Shirley Turner
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora
Senator Peter Barnes
Assemblyman John Wisniewski
Assemblywoman Linda Stender
Assemblyman John McKeon
Assemblywoman Mila Jasey
Assemblywoman Shavona Sumter
Assemblyman Benjamin Wimberly
Asssemblyman Gordon Johnson
Assemblyman Tim Eustace
Assemblyman Joe Lagana
Doug O’Malley, Environment New Jersey Director
Reverend Fletcher Harper, Green Faith Director
Rev. Craig Hirshberg, Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Director
Harriett Sugarman, ClimateMama
Andy Coleman, Bus for Progress
David Pringle, Clean Water Action Campaign Director
Jeff Tittel, New Jersey Sierra Club Director
New Jersey Sustainable Collegiate Partners
Lyle Rawlings, NJ-FREE Chair
Dennis Wilson, Vice President, MSEIA (Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industry Association)
Trisha Sheehan, Moms Clean Air Force
Deb Coyle, Work Environment Council Interim Director
Luke Gordon, United Steel Workers, Staff Representative, District 4
Chris Wisseman, Fishermen’s Energy CEO
Rhoda Scherman, North Jersey Public Policy Network
Rosemary Dreger Carey, 350.org NJ
Georgina Shanley, CURE (Citizens United for Renewable Energy)
Robert Russo, Deputy Mayor, Montclair
Michael Gonnelli, Mayor, Secaucus
Amanda Nesheweit, Environmental Coordinator, Secaucus
Michael Santo, Councilman, Tuckerton
Andrew Koontz, Mercer County Freehold Chair
Sam Frisby, Mercer County Freehold Vice Chair
Ann Cannon, Mercer County Freeholder
Anthony Carabelli, Mercer County Freeholder
John Cimino, Mercer County Freeholder
Pasquale Colavita, Mercer County Freeholder
Lucylle Walter, Mercer County Freeholder