Wednesday, May 6, 2015

NJ bills seek to get offshore wind turbines spinning

When Chris Christie ran for his first term as New Jersey's Governor in 2009, he was a big promoter of offshore energy. Since then, his Board of Public Utilities has thwarted repeated proposals by an Atlantic City-focused wind farm developer, Fishermen's Energy, to construct a test wind farm off the coast of the casino city.

Some of the governor's environmental critics claim that Christie changed his tune after being invited to dine with the Koch brothers who made their billions in fossil fuel-related industries and ventures and who are major Republican Party campaign contributors.

His defenders say the fact that offshore wind energy remains stalled has more to do with fracking--the natural gas extraction technique that has drastically reduced the cost of that fuel and, with it, the cost of electricity for many NJ businesses that had been paying the highest energy costs in the nation. Wind energy, they claim, would set electric bills spinning in the wrong direction.

Several Democrats in the state legislature continue to push the BPU to sign off on wind power. Tomorrow, the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee will take up three such bills at 10 a.m. in Room 9 of the State House Annex.

They are:   

A-1697  Wisniewski, J.S. (D-19); Chivukula, U.J. (D-17); Coughlin, C.J. (D-19)
Allows tax credits for development of qualified wind energy facilities in certain portfield sites.

A-4128  Mazzeo, V. (D-2); DeAngelo, W.P. (D-14); Spencer, L.G. (D-29); Singleton, T.
Requires BPU to approve qualified wind energy project and exempts project from cost-benefit analysis --and its Senate counterpart--
S-2711  Smith, B. (D-17); Whelan, J. (D-2)
Requires BPU to approve qualified wind energy project and exempts project from cost-benefit analysis. This bill passed the Senate on a 21-15 vote on February 5.

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