Senate President Steve Sweeney welcomed news that state officials have approved permits for a wind turbine project nearly three miles off the Atlantic City coast, green-lighting what may become the nation’s first off-shore wind farm.

According to published reports today, Fishermen’s Energy has received the go-ahead from state regulators to move forward with its plan for constructing a six-turbine, 25-megawatt wind-energy system 2.8 miles from Atlantic City’s boardwalk, capable of powering 10,000 homes.

Sweeney noted that the project was significantly boosted by a 2010 law he sponsored – the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act – that opened the wind-energy market to new investment. That law created an offshore wind renewable energy certificate (OREC) program to require that a percentage of electricity sold in the state be from offshore wind energy. Much like the successful solar renewable energy certificate (SREC) program, the OREC system allows wind energy producers to receive credits that can be sold to produce revenues, offset production costs and stabilize energy rates.

“This project would not have been able to move this far along, this fast without the significant private investments and economic boost made possible by our new law,” said Sweeney (DGloucester/ Cumberland/Salem). “As with any emerging technology, the potential for offshore wind is exciting, but that excitement is often tempered by the need to secure the financing needed to take it from dream to reality. Our law is now making that dream viable, and pushing New Jersey forward once again as a leader in alternative, renewable energy.”

According to Fishermen’s Energy, construction of the project may be completed as early as next year, pending final permit approvals, which the energy consortium says may be received as early as next month. That timetable could put the Atlantic City system on-line well before a planned wind-farm off the Massachusetts coast, which would make it the nation’s first offshore wind project.

Sweeney said he is hopeful that in addition to more offshore projects, the law’s benefits will lure turbine and component manufacturers to the state, as well.

“Being the first state in the nation to have an offshore wind farm powering our communities will be a huge feather in New Jersey’s cap, but we need to do even more,” said Sweeney. “It would be even better if some of those homes powered by wind belong to folks who have found good jobs building turbines in a factory right here, as well.”