New Jersey is offering up to $19 million to help support a potential wind turbine project off the coast, and at least one company is interested.
The state Board of Public Utilities on Wednesday approved a “competitive grant solicitation” to support the financing and development of an offshore pilot project, according to an e-mail from BPU spokesman Doyal H. Siddell.
Such a project, which would likely have about 70 turbines and power about 125,000 homes, would be located in an area up to 20 miles off Seaside Park to Stone Harbor, according to Siddell’s e-mails.
“This was very exciting news to Bluewater Wind,” which expects to submit a proposal, said James S. Lanard, head of strategic planning and communications for the Hoboken-based company.
The BPU move comes about 17 months after the state Blue Ribbon Panel on Development of Wind Turbine Facilities in Coastal Waters recommended that New Jersey facilitate a test project. The project, with as many as 80 wind turbines or up to 350 megawatts of electricity, would provide clean, renewable energy.
The Sandy Hook-based American Littoral Society, which opposes the idea of an offshore wind farm, thinks that Gov. Corzine’s administration is “putting the cart before the horse” in soliciting proposals before environmental impact and economic questions are answered, said Tim Dillingham, society executive director and a blue-ribbon panel member.
But BPU President Jeanne M. Fox said “nothing would go forward in the ocean” until state officials feel it’s protective of New Jersey’s environment.
Up to $19 million in state grant money will be available, with up to $1.9 million of that up front to help conduct studies and prepare permit applications, according to BPU officials. The rest of the funding would be based on electricity produced over five years.
The BPU will accept proposals for funding through Jan. 16 and projects awarding the money in March, according to an e-mailed BPU statement.
Bluewater Wind, which has proposed building a 450-megawatt wind farm off Delaware, thinks a project off New Jersey with up to 350 megawatts will cost more than $1 billion, Lanard said.
A New Jersey wind farm could begin operating possibly in 2012, according to BPU officials.
Ed Dlugosz, president of Monmouth County Friends of Clearwater, said “I like the idea that it’s . . . moving forward” but regulators must ensure that the environment is protected.
Construction will occur only if permits are obtained and upcoming studies or analyses “find no unacceptable adverse impacts on the environment, the economy or tourism as a result of this pilot program,” according to a Siddell e-mail.
By Todd B. Bates
4 September 2007
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