New Jersey governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that could have helped Fishermen’s Energy build the 24MW Atlantic City demonstration project.
The bill, which passed in both houses of the legislature, would have required the state Board of Public Utilities to open a new 30-day application window for small offshore wind projects.
The board previously rejected Fishermen’s pilot over cost and viability concerns. The project has since been reconfigured with six Siemens 4MW turbines installed three miles offshore in state waters.
The $220m demonstration scheme has a $50m funding agreement in place with the US Department of Energy and qualifies for the 30% investment tax credit, said Fishermen’s.
The project is financially sound, said Fishermen’s CEO Chris Wissemann, and the board should take another look it.
“Now that the legislation is no longer clouding the BPU’s authority, we expect that the administration will support the BPU opening up a new window to accept an application to factually determine if offshore wind works for New Jersey, especially now that the project brings more than $100m in federal funding and more than 500 jobs to New Jersey.”
Larger projects are also in the works off New Jersey. US Wind and RES America hold commercial leases for two sites with a combined 3.4GW potential.
Offshore wind advocates slammed the governor’s decision.
Christie is “promoting gas and other dirty fossil fuels while blocking clean energy efforts like offshore wind,” said New Jersey Sierra Club director Jeff Tittel. The governor is “holding offshore wind hostage to his national political ambition.”
The Christie government established the ‘offshore wind energy development act’ five years ago but has yet to implement it. The 2010 law directs the BPU to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate programme to support at least 1100MW of offshore wind generation.
“New Jersey should have broken ground years ago with the Fishermen’s Energy project,” said Tittel. “New Jersey isn’t going to get offshore wind until we get another governor.”
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