A bipartisan wind energy development measure recently signed by Governor Christie will spur economic growth in the Garden State through the development of renewable energy resources and the creation of green jobs. The legislation will establish an offshore wind renewable energy certificate program (OREC) and will make available financial assistance and tax credits from existing programs for businesses that construct manufacturing, assemblage and water access facilities to support the development of qualified offshore wind projects.  

"The Offshore Wind Economic Development Act will provide New Jersey with an opportunity to leverage our vast resources and innovative technologies to allow businesses to engage in new and emerging sectors of the energy industry," said Governor Christie. "Developing New Jersey's renewable energy resources and industry is critical to our state's manufacturing and technology future. My Administration will maintain a strong commitment to utilizing energy as industry in our efforts to make our State a home for growth, as well as a national leader in the windpower movement."  

"This is a terrific step for New Jersey,'' said DEP Commissioner Bob Martin."It makes us a leader environmentally, while at the same time providing New Jersey with a major economic boost from jobs that surely will be created by this green industry. Certainly, we would rather have wind turbines, and the environmental and economic benefits they offer, than oil rigs off the coast of New Jersey.''  

"We are far ahead of most other states in developing a technology that is better for the environment and will help the state's economy,'' Commissioner Martin said.  

The bill directs the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) to develop an offshore renewable energy certificate program that calls for a percentage of electricity sold in the state to be from offshore wind energy. This percentage would be developed to support at least 1,100 megawatts of generation from qualified offshore wind projects.  

Through the legislation, the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) will provide financial assistance to qualified offshore wind projects and associated equipment manufacturers and assembling facilities.  

Primary sponsors of S-2036 are Senator Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Salem, Cumberland, Gloucester) and Senator Thomas H. Kean, Jr. (R-Essex, Morris, Somerset).  

"New Jersey already is a national leader in solar energy production, and now we will have the ability to finally tap into the potential of our offshore winds and become a leader in this emergent technology," said Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). "The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico opened our eyes to the need for clean, sustainable energy that we can produce here at home. Not only will this law make New Jersey even more energy independent, it will also bring vital new jobs to the state at a time when we need them the most."  

"Clean energy technologies will help generate economic growth, now and in the future. Countries like China are already investing heavily and the U.S. should too if it wants to reap the benefits and not fall behind," Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Union) stated. "As a matter of principle, we must take this opportunity to use the emerging new energy economy to create jobs and careers right here in New Jersey and not overseas."  

In June, Governor Christie signed a Memorandum of Understanding with other nine other East Coast governor's establishing the Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy Consortium to facilitate federal-stat cooperation for commercial wind development on the Outer Continental Shelf off of the Atlantic coast.

Three of the first five "interim policy leases'' approved by the federal government to explore offshore wind projects are for tracts located off the coast of New Jersey, well-positioning the state and region to tap into the industry's enormous potential, creating thousands of manufacturing, construction and operations jobs of the future.  

In April, Governor Christie outlined an energy policy for the state of New Jersey that emphasizes in-state production of renewable and traditional energy sources to create a stronger economy and jobs by making energy more affordable, more reliable, and more often produced by New Jersey workers.  

The bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney and Senate Republican Leader Thomas H. Kean, Jr., aims to create a new manufacturing sector in New Jersey.  

The lawmakers said the establishment of in-state manufacturing businesses to build turbines, rotors and other parts needed to harness offshore wind would bring new jobs to the state. Currently, no United States-based facility exists that produces the parts needed for offshore wind projects.  

“New Jersey already is a national leader in solar energy production, and now we will have the ability to finally tap into the potential of our offshore winds and become a leader in this emergent technology,” said Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester/Cumberland/Salem). “The disaster in the Gulf of Mexico opened our eyes to the need for clean, sustainable energy that we can produce here at home. Not only will this law make New Jersey even more energy independent, it will also bring vital new jobs to the state at a time when we need them the most.”  

The “Offshore Wind Economic Development Act,” creates through the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) an offshore wind renewable energy certificate (OREC) program to require that a percentage of electricity sold in the State be from offshore wind energy – similar to the credits already provided for solar energy. The credits will help push the state to creating 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind energy.  

The Sweeney/Kean measure gives the BPU specific authority to accept applications for qualified offshore wind projects with the goal of helping the state meet the mandate of the Energy Master Plan that calls for the development of 3,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020 – a target that will require a comprehensive offshore wind program.  

“Clean energy technologies will help generate economic growth, now and in the future. Countries like China are already investing heavily and the U.S. should too if it wants to reap the benefits and not fall behind,” Kean stated. “As a matter of principle, we must take this opportunity to use the emerging new energy economy to create jobs and careers right here in New Jersey and not overseas.”  

Much like the solar renewable energy credit certificate program (SREC), the OREC system would allow wind energy producers to receive credits that can produce revenues and be used to offset production costs and stabilize energy rates.  

Adding to the urgency is the fact that New Jersey is one of several states along the Eastern Seaboard planning offshore wind projects. By creating a New Jersey-based manufacturing sector now means other states’ projects would have to place their orders with businesses based in-state, creating a long-term market that could support hundreds of high paying permanent manufacturing jobs.