A major alternative energy bill designed to spur the financing of wind energy farms off New Jersey’s coast is one of several environmental bills scheduled for a vote Monday in the state Senate.
Co-sponsored by the Senate’s Democratic and Republican leaders, Steve Sweeney and Tom Kean Jr., S-2036 would establish a program of Offshore Renewable Energy Certificates (ORECs) that wind energy developers say are necessary to attract financial investors to the expensive projects.
The bill would allow developers to earn the credits for each megawatt of electricity the turbines produce over 20 years. It also authorizes the state’s Economic Development Authority to provide up to $100 million in tax credits to wind energy support businesses, like wind turbine manufacturers, that set up shop in New Jersey.
The ORECs would be purchased by utilities who are required by state law to supply a certain percentage of their electricity from alternative energy sources like wind and solar. The bill anticipates at least 1,100 megawatts of electricity generated by qualified offshore wind projects.
An economist for the New Jersey Business and Industry Association estimates the cost of such an offshore wind farm at $7 billion. Other estimates run as high as $20 billion.
It’s the size and unpredictability of project costs that has some business leaders questioning the wisdom of such legislation in a state where manufacturers and other heavy energy users already pay the highest energy bills in the nation.
But advocates counter that offshore wind energy will offset its higher costs by generating new jobs in construction, turbine- manufacturing and supplies. They also say it’s an opportunity that New Jersey can’t afford to lose to competing projects in Delaware and New York.
[UPDATE: A2873, the Assembly companion to the Senate offshore wind bill, S2036 (above), was added late Friday to the Assembly voting list for Monday. If the bills are merged and approved in both houses on Monday, the combined bill can be sent to Governor Chris Christie before the Legislature’s summer recess which begins after Monday’s sessions]
Other environmental legislation up for a Senate vote:
S1977 (Smith) Revises the “Electronic Waste Management Act”
S2006 (Smith) Prohibits municipal zoning ordinances from regulating solar panels under certain circumstances; limits fees for certain renewable energy installations.
S2089 (Pennacchio) Abolishes the Department of the Public Advocate and transfers certain functions, powers and duties
A2217/S1004 (McKeon/Oroho) Extends expiration date of special appraisal process for Green Acres and farmland preservation programs from 2009 to 2014 for lands in Highlands Region.
A2927/S2002 (Moriarty/Gordon) Authorizes New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust to expend certain sums to make loans for environmental infrastructure projects
A2928/S2003 (Johnson/Bateman) Appropriates funds to DEP for environmental infrastructure projects.
A2929/S2004 (McKeon/Smith) Makes certain changes to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust Financing Program
ACR135/SCR106 (Wisniewski/Beach) Makes certain changes to the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust Financing Program
A-2873 (Chivukula) The "Offshore Wind Economic
Development Act"; establishes offshore wind renewable energy
certificate program, and authorizes EDA to provide tax credits for
qualified wind energy facilities in wind energy zones.
Related: S-2036 (See Senate list above)
A-2939 (Wagner) "Meadowlands Regionalization, Efficiency and Property Tax Relief Act of 2010."
A-3055 (Coutinho) Extends suspension of Statewide non-residential development fee to October 30, 2010.
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