Mazzeo Introduces Measures to Advance Offshore Wind Energy Plan for Atlantic City

Assemblyman Vince Mazzeo has introduced legislation to urge the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to follow through on a plan to promote offshore wind energy in Atlantic City.

The bill (A-4128) would require the BPU to approve a qualified wind energy project off the shores of Atlantic City and remove the requirement that an entity seeking to construct such a project submit a cost-benefit analysis to the board. 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.”

Mazzeo also has introduced a resolution (AR-209) urging the BPU to adopt regulations needed to facilitate the construction of offshore wind energy projects pursuant to the “Offshore Wind Economic Development Act” and establish energy efficiency portfolio standards pursuant to the “Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act.”

Although the BPU has had the authority to adopt electric and gas efficiency standards for more than seven years under the “Global Warming Response Act,” it has yet to do so, Mazzeo noted. The board also has failed to implement an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program that would require a percentage of electricity sold in New Jersey to come from wind energy.

“Offshore wind projects can deliver real economic benefits for New Jersey, so it’s important that the BPU adopt these regulations and allow our state to take full advantage of those opportunities,” said Mazzeo. “Wind energy will help reduce our reliance on foreign oil, and the manufacturing jobs that projects create can help put residents of the Atlantic City region back to work at this critical time.”

The measures, originally proposed by Senator Bob Smith, were referred to the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee.