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Assembly Democrat Sponsored Bill to Advance Offshore Wind Energy Plan for Atlantic City Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation Sponsored by Assembly Members Mazzeo, DeAngelo, Spencer, Singleton, McKeon, Danielsen & Johnson

(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Vince Mazzeo, Wayne DeAngelo, Grace L. Spencer, Troy Singleton, John McKeon, Joe Danielsen and Gordon Johnson to urge the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to follow through on a plan to promote offshore wind energy in Atlantic City was approved, 48-21-0, by the full Assembly on Thursday.

The bill (A-4128) would allow the BPU to approve a qualified wind energy project off the shores of Atlantic City. The board would be required to provide a 30-day period for application submissions, and from time to time, provide a submission period that differs from the 30-day period.
Both the legislature and the governor approved a plan for the state’s first major offshore wind farm in 2010, but BPU obstruction repeatedly has caused a delay in the project moving forward.

The BPU twice has rejected a proposal from Fisherman’s Energy, a Cape-May based developer, citing excessive costs. Mazzeo, however, noted that the project, a 25-megawatt wind farm planned for construction off the Atlantic City coast, has the potential to bring more than 500 jobs to a damaged regional economy and has been approved for $47 million in federal grants.

“Whether you approach it from an economic or environmental perspective, the Fisherman’s Energy project can only strengthen New Jersey,” said Mazzeo (D-Atlantic). “We have the opportunity to make our state a leader in the wind energy industry and put men and women in the Atlantic City region back to work. It’s disappointing that the only thing that’s been standing in the way for the past four and a half years is the BPU.”

“Wind farming is the future of the energy industry,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex), who is the chair of the committee. “New Jersey has the potential to be one of the country’s leaders in the cultivation of wind energy, create jobs, decrease energy costs for customers and change the way we see the future of heating and cooling homes. The Fisherman’s Energy project must move forward.”

“Offshore wind projects can deliver real economic benefits for New Jersey, so it’s important that the BPU stop putting up roadblocks and allow our state to take full advantage of those opportunities,” said Spencer (D-Essex). “Wind energy will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and the manufacturing jobs that projects create can help put residents back to work.”

“While the legislature and the governor have both agreed offshore wind energy projects in the state are important to pursue, the BPU continues to drag its feet,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “It’s time to get started on these projects and begin to reap the benefits of wind energy production.”

“Exploring the possibilities of wind energy production can change the way we power businesses, government and homes,” said McKeon (D-Essex Morris). “We can’t allow the BPU to continue to hold up projects that may mean considerable cost savings for customers.”

“We cannot afford to stall projects that have the potential to create jobs and give our economy a much needed boost,” said Danielsen (D-Somerset/Middlesex). “It is time for the BPU to get on board.”

“The BPU stands in the way of creating hundreds of jobs for residents and exploring cost-saving benefits of wind energy in New Jersey,” said Johnson (D-Bergen). “Four and a half years is far too long for residents to wait for BPU to approve the Fisherman’s Energy project. Now is the time to seize this opportunity and move the project forward.”

The bill was released by the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee in June.