New Jersey signs off 1.1GW offshore legislation

UNITED STATES: New Jersey has signed off legislation directing the state's public utilities commission to help develop offshore wind projects.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie

This morning, Governor Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act as part of the state's aim to provide 1.1GW from offshore wind. As of 2009, New Jersey had a wind capacity of only 8MW.

In June, the state senate's environment and energy committee approved S 2036, the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, with four yes votes and one abstention.

The bill requires the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to establish special requirements for offshore wind as part of the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The RPS requires utilities to procure 7.4% of the electricity they sell from renewables in 2010, rising gradually to 22.5% by 2021. The bill would force the board to require that a certain percentage of electricity come from offshore wind.

A number of East Coast states are developing offshore initiatives and have formed a development group to promote the sector in the US.

However, it has proved difficult translating the legislative goodwill into online capacity. Cape Wind’s 430MW project in Massachusetts is closest to operation after spending 10 years in the pipeline. With Deepwater Wind’s 20MW pilot project planned for Rhode Island following closely behind.

Recent hold-ups have included PPA rejections from the PUC and approvals from the Federal Aviation Administration.