(TRENTON) — Legislation sponsored by Assemblymen Upendra Chivukula and John Burzichelli to promote development of offshore wind power and the economic growth it would spark for New Jersey was released Friday by an Assembly panel.

The landmark legislation (A-2873) known as the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act would establish an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program and authorize the Economic Development Authority to provide up to $100 million in tax credits for wind energy facilities.

“New Jersey, through progressive policies and initiatives, has made itself a leader in clean energy technology, and we have to make sure we don’t lose that edge,” said Chivukula (D-Somerset/Middlesex), who has spearheaded several clean energy initiatives. “Offshore wind is a key part of the future, and we need to make sure New Jersey is well positioned to benefit from this emerging technology and the economic growth it will bring.”

New Jersey was recently among 10 states to sign an agreement establishing an Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to help facilitate federal-state cooperation for commercial wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf off of the Atlantic coast.

“Offshore wind projects would create significant economic development and environmental benefits for the state, but those benefits must be balanced with the cost and the overall impact upon the state,” said Burzichelli (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “This bill ensures that developing offshore wind projects provides positive benefits both economically and environmentally for New Jersey.”

The bill would direct the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to develop an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program to require that a percentage of electricity sold in the state be from offshore wind energy.

This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.

The bill authorizes the BPU to accept applications for qualified offshore wind projects and sets forth the criteria to be used by the BPU in reviewing the applications. As defined by the bill, qualified offshore wind project means a wind turbine electricity generation facility located in the Atlantic Ocean and connected to the electric transmission system in this state.

The bill designates elements that the BPU must consider in its review, including a recognition of the total subsidy to be paid by ratepayers over the life of the proposed project and whether a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed project demonstrates a net positive benefit to the state.

“The bill is designed to provide the BPU with the flexibility necessary to develop procedures to ensure the development of offshore wind energy in a cost-effective and state-beneficial manner,’ Chivukula said.

“The bill also authorizes the EDA to provide financial assistance to qualified offshore wind projects and associated equipment manufacturers and assembling facilities to promote economic development in the state,” Burzichelli said.

Lastly, it authorizes the EDA to provide up to $100 million in tax credits for the development of qualified wind energy facilities in wind energy zones.

The bill was unanimously released by the Assembly Budget Committee.

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