Gov. Christie has again vetoed a bill that would have allowed Fishermen’s Energy to reapply to the New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities for approval of a plan to issue offshore wind energy renewable energy certificates.
Fishermen’s Energy is a regional consortium of commercial fish companies with plans to develop a six-turbine, wind energy pilot project off the coast of Atlantic City.
In a March 23 letter to Christie asking him to approve Senate bill 988, Fishermen’s CEO Chris Wissemann said offshore wind energy is a rapidly changing industry and since the group’s last try before the BPU two years ago, projected prices for offshore wind renewable energy credits had dropped.
According to Wissemann, offshore wind prices are now substantially lower than New Jersey’s solar renewable energy credit prices. “Our Atlantic City offshore wind demonstration project can now sell its power for 30 percent less than contemplated two years ago, thanks to substantial federal funding and incorporation of American know-how. It is important to understand how offshore wind stacks up against solar energy. Our project will sell renewable energy certificates at a price that is a third less than the current prices and involves an amount of energy that is only about 10 percent of New Jersey’s annual solar purchase requirement.
“Federal funding from the Department of Energy that makes this project cost-effective for New Jersey will disappear later this year. The Atlantic City project is shovel-ready but for approval by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.”
The governor vetoed S-988 on May 2 because he said it would have taken too much power away from the BPU.
“OWEDA (Offshore Wind Energy Development Act of 2010) provided the BPU with considerable authority to evaluate offshore wind projects proposed for New Jersey waters prior to their construction,” wrote the governor in his letter to the Senate. “That the Legislature gave the BPU this authority is not surprising given BPU’s expertise in energy matters.
“Among other things, OWEDA requires that a project sponsor prepare a cost-benefit analysis for consideration by BPU, which BPU will evaluate in determining a net benefit to the state and its ratepayers. If BPU determines that the proposed project does not pass the net benefits test, BPU may reject the proposal. This aspect of BPU’s authority is important for a number of reasons, among them being the protection of the ratepayers, since the cost of these projects inevitably will be passed along to them in their electric bills.”
Christie said the bill would have taken away the BPU’s discretion over when it would allow applicants to submit proposals for new offshore wind projects.
Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said the veto was just another example of Christie blocking wind energy in New Jersey.
“Gov. Christie and his administration have failed to fully implement the Offshore Wind Energy Development Act (OWEDA). That act would establish a funding mechanism for offshore wind, to jumpstart the manufacturing of wind turbines in our state, and to develop windmills off our coast. Since it passed, OWEDA implementation projects like Fishermen’s Energy have been on hold.
“The veto of this bill is part of him holding offshore wind hostage to his national political ambition. He is promoting gas and other dirty fossil fuels while blocking clean energy efforts like offshore wind. The failure of the Christie administration to adopt rules for offshore wind or hold up projects like Fishermen’s Energy has cost New Jersey jobs and economic investments. Since Gov. Christie came into office, we’ve been waiting ever since for the financial support from OWEDA.
“As we continue to rebuild our coast in the wake of multiple storm events we need to invest in clean, renewable energy sources that do not contribute to climate change,” said Tittel.