Mixed Wind Power Messages from New Jersey

New Jersey Republican State Senator Joseph Kryillos introduced a bill to the state’s Senate that proposes a seven-year moratorium on the construction of wind turbines in State coastal waters. Future wind power development in state waters are being highly scrutinized on all sides as Kryillos’ legislative action follows an Executive action that has already imposed a 15-month moratorium on developments in state waters.

Provisions included in Kryillos’ bill would limit the permits and development authorizations issued by the State Department of Environmental Protection to offshore wind turbine projects that have completed of a study to determine the true environmental consequences and energy potential of a project. Similar to the proposed 420 MW Cape Wind project off the coast of Massachusetts, both the current executive moratorium and the proposed seven-year Kryillos bill moratorium may not have any effect on wind power developments beyond state waters. When in federal waters, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is the top regulatory body governing offshore wind power developments. The Senate referred the bill to the State Economic Growth Committee, of which Kryillos is an acting member. Kyrillos introduced the bill less than a month after acting Gov. Richard Codey signed an executive order to establish a blue ribbon committee to study offshore wind developments. The committee has 15 months to study the various effects that a wind energy development could have on tourism, marine and bird life, power generation and the Jersey shoreline. A funding and permitting freeze is in place until the committee has completed and presented its study. Both moratorium actions seem to conflict with the goals of New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard, and work against funding initiatives for clean energy. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) approved $745 million in funding in December that will be allocated over the next four years through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program. Funding for the Clean Energy Program comes from electric and gas customers who contribute a Societal Benefits Charge (SBC), which was mandated by the Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act of 1999. NJBPU President Jeanne Fox called the funding plan a milestone that will help the state move closer to its clean energy goal of 300 MW of clean energy generation capacity by 2008. An Economic Impact Analysis of the proposed 20 percent renewable portfolio standard (RPS) was released by the NJBPU in December as well. According to the analysis, wind power is necessary to help the state reach its goals. Establishing wind energy in the state won’t be a simple task, however. “Despite the viability of some renewable energy technologies, the market has been slow to embrace them,” the NJBPU stated in the analysis. “This may in part be because to the now deregulated electric generation market. Market participants may be cautious about long-term power purchase agreements with generators in general and the use of unproven technologies with high capital costs (wind power fits into this category), in particular.” The board does acknowledge that supporting the industry could counteract market trepidation by forcing “the hand of suppliers in favor of such technologies.” Initial costs to establish solar and wind would be higher than using the existing coal, oil and gas fired plants, according to the analysis, but that doesn’t mean the technologies should be passed over. Even though a mix of energy sources, such as landfill gas and biomass, would be necessary to meet RPS goals up to 2009, “wind power is necessary to meet the requirement” from 2009 to 2020. But establishing wind energy, particularly offshore, as a viable source of electricity in the state needs a cautious approach, according to the board. “New Jersey policymakers should give serious attention to determining policies addressing the appropriateness of developing, permitting, and siting of offshore wind,” the board stated in its analysis. “While there are numerous competing arguments to encourage or discourage the development of off-shore wind, it is important that state policy address these issues on a timely basis.” With a seven-year moratorium on offshore wind developments proposed in addition to a 15-month freeze on permitting and funding, it is difficult to tell where New Jersey’s commitment to a state RPS lies. The bill proposed by Senator Kyrillos will work its way up the list of bills before the Economic Growth Committee, and the blue ribbon committee will study offshore developments to try and determine a direction for the state to take. In the meantime, the Federal Production Tax Credit for wind energy is still scheduled to expire at the end of 2005, and that could leave New Jersey with a tougher economic situation to work with if they decide to develop whatever wind resources are available in the state.
Previous articleLeague of Women Voters Energy-Policy Forums
Next articleHydrogen Company Take-Over Bid Begins

No posts to display