SEA GIRT – State legislators and local officials have said this week that the proposed wind turbine project at the National Guard Training Center [NGTC], here, has been cancelled.
According to Sea Girt Mayor Mark Clemmensen and Assemblyman Dave Rible [R-11], the statement was made by a spokesman in the governor’s office.
The project has been “permanently halted,” said Assemblyman Rible.
The wind turbine had been proposed by the NGTC about two years ago. The wind turbine would have been located on the training center, which is state-owned property, and was planned to stand about 400 feet tall – taller than the Statue of Liberty.
State officials have said the wind turbine project is part of a larger initiative to make the Sea Girt NGTC and other military bases energy-independent.
The training center was awarded $5 million by the United States Department of Defense and Energy Conservation Investment Program to install a 1.5-megawatt wind turbine at the NGTC in 2009.
Area residents vocally opposed the project, citing health, aesthetic and property value concerns. Sea Girt, Manasquan, Spring Lake and Spring Lake Heights councils adopted resolutions in opposition to the project in the fall of 2010.
Assemblyman Rible and Sen. Sean Kean [R-11] both introduced legislation last year which would, if passed, prohibit a wind turbine from being built at the NGTC, by creating 2,000-foot setback requirements between any industrial wind turbine and a residential home.
That would have effectively kept the wind turbine from being constructed anywhere on the NGTC property.
Mayor Clemmensen said he was called by Chris Stark, the regional director of intergovernmental affairs at the governor’s office, late Tuesday afternoon to say that the project had been cancelled.
The mayor said when he asked for more details, Mr. Stark stated they would be forthcoming from either the Department of Environmental Protection [DEP] or the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs.
Mr. Stark did not return a call to comment by press time.
Larry Ragonese, a spokesman for the DEP, said yesterday that an application for the wind turbine had neither been rejected or accepted by the DEP. In fact, the NGTC has yet to even submit an application for the project.
According to Mr. Ragonese, an application for the project must come through the DEP for approval before the NGTC could move forward with any plans for the wind turbine.
The governor’s office, he said, would not be involved.
The DEP did offer guidance last year to the NGTC concerning the project and the exact location of the proposed wind turbine on the property.
“We indicated that it would be difficult to put the turbine where they were going to,” said Mr. Ragonese. “But, it’s truly up to them to determine if they wanted to apply,” he said.
The Department of Military and Veterans Affairs would not comment on the proposed wind turbine project. A spokesman said they were told to refer all questions about the project to the governor’s office.
No one at the governor’s communications office would confirm the cancellation of the project yesterday.
They deferred calls to the DEP.
Mayor Clemmensen said he was “extremely pleased” when he got the call from the governor’s office on Tuesday.
“I think it’s certainly the right decision for our community. An industrial wind turbine is not appropriate in this type of location,” he said.
“Of course we will look for energy saving methods in the future, but one that fits the community and the environment,” he added.
“The efforts of Sen. Kean, our Assemblyman Rible and Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini [R-11], our citizens, and the coordinated efforts of our neighboring towns, all contributed to this victory and should be applauded,” said the mayor.
“The halting of the project is a victory for Sea Girt and all of Southern Monmouth County,” said Assemblyman Rible.
“It is a testament to the residents who were engaged in the fight. It shows that you can still fight an issue and win,” the assemblyman added.
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