State has five bids for offshore pilot project
TRENTON – Lawmakers joined with environmentalists Monday to call on New Jersey to be the first state to build offshore wind farms that provide enough energy to power more than 450,000 homes per year.
On the eve of of Earth Day, the group endorsed an initiative to create 1,750 megawatts of energy by 2020 through the country’s first offshore wind farm off the New Jersey coast. The plan exceeds the goals set out in the draft released last week of the new energy master plan, which calls for at least 1,000 megawatts by 2020.
Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, said the more aggressive initiative puts the state on track to meet the goals laid out in the Global Warming Response Act, which calls for a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions of 20 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
In Delaware, Bluewater Wind has proposed a 150-turbine, 450-megawatt wind farm 11 miles east of Rehoboth Beach, supplemented by a 150-megawatt to 200-megawatt gas turbine facility in southern Delaware that would provide backup power when the wind doesn’t blow.
Delmarva Power has lobbied heavily to defeat the proposal, which it contends would burden its customers with costly premiums for offshore wind when they could obtain more affordable land-based wind power from other states.
Delaware’s wind farm proposal stems from a bill passed by lawmakers in 2006 in response to hefty rate increases for Delmarva Power customers following deregulation and the lifting of price caps. Lawmakers directed Delmarva to request proposals for long-term supply contracts in an effort to ensure reliable, cost-effective energy for its customers.
In New Jersey, the draft energy master plan released by Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s administration calls for 22.5 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. Offshore and onshore wind farms could account for 20 percent of the energy produced by renewable sources, said the draft plan.
The state in March received five bids for a pilot project to build a wind farm aimed at producing up to 350 megawatts. A study due by September 2009 about the impact on wildlife is being conducted in a region from Seaside Park in Ocean County to Stone Harbor in Cape May County.
Although the wind farms are expected to be placed 15 to 20 miles offshore, concerns have arisen about whether the turbines would create an eyesore off the coast and bother residents or drive away the summer beach crowd.
Belmar Mayor Kenneth Pringle said any alternative to using renewable sources of energy would be worse.
“We have a choice. We can look offshore and see windmills, or we can continue to look offshore and see smog banks that continue to cloud the horizon,” said Pringle.
By Michael Rispoli
Gannett News Service
22 April 2008
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