With the goal of 1.5 million New Jersey homes powered by offshore windmills by 2030, Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Wednesday that breathed life into a program former Gov. Chris Christie sidelined for nearly eight years.
“Seven-and-a-half years ago, Gov. Christie signed into law what was to be a revolutionary policy to get New Jersey to run on offshore wind energy,” Murphy said during a news conference in Atlantic City.
The Democrat was referring to the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act that Christie, a Republican,signed six months after he first took office. The measure was meant to provide financial aid and tax credits to attract private companies to participate in developing wind farms in the ocean.
But Christie effectively blocked wind farm development by never implementing the subsidy program.
“The days of political delay are over,” Murphy, who was sworn in to succeed Christie on Jan. 16, said Wednesday.
The original bill mandated a percentage of electrical power sold in New Jersey eventually be generated by offshore windmills. It also offered a mix of financial assistance and tax credits to lure companies to build the turbines.
Murphy signed the executive order, his eighth, at a wastewater treatment facility in Atlantic City that sits in the shadows of massive wind turbines.
He directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to implement the act.
“It’s been eight years of torture,” said state Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, who joined Murphy at the event.
Sweeney co-sponsored the original bill along with the state Senate’s top Republican lawmaker, Sen Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr., R-Union.
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this action you’re taking today,” Sweeney said. “We’re ready.”
The top Democrat in the Legislature came to Murphy’s defense after the governor was pressed on how he would respond to critics who say they don’t want to see the turbines off the coast.
It’s way too far off the shore, Sweeney responded.
“If you can see 15 miles away, I’ve got to find out what you’ve been … smoking,” Sweeney said.
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