For the Love of Christie

N.J. governor stiff-arms wind power project…again

chris the bul

New Jersey’s governor hasn’t caved to public outcry for greener pastures in the energy sector.

Chris Christie, blockin’ bills.

The New Jersey governor once again vetoed a bill advocating offshore wind power on May 3. The bill was pushing to give life to a dwindling Fishermen’s Energy 24MW offshore wind project near Atlantic City. It would be the Garden State’s first offshore wind farm.

Proponents of renewables expressed outrage. An editorial in the Asbury Park Press suggested that, “Christie isn’t interested in wind energy, or solar, or anything “green” that would adversely affect his Big Oil and Big Gas patrons.” Christie contends that the bill seeks to usurp the Board of Public Utilities’ authority by forcing it to receive development applications under the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act. He issued the following statement:

“This is a notable departure from OWEDA, which appropriately defers to BPU to determine when it will accept applications. I cannot endorse a bill that would run contrary to OWEDA’s original intent by taking discretion away from BPU, the entity responsible for managing energy matters on behalf of the state.”

The legislation, which passed both houses of the state legislature in March, would have required regulators to open a new 30-day application window for small offshore wind projects. Christie last week vetoed another measure designed to energize an offshore wind program that hasn’t progressed since the governor signed legislation in 2010 designed to support the industry. The stated goal at the time was 1,100 megawatts of wind farms by 2020. Christie’s cabinet directed the BPU to develop a REC program back in 2010 which was intended to support at least 1100MW of offshore wind generation; however, the board has yet to follow through.

The Board of Public Utilities previously rejected Fishermen’s pilot over cost and viability concerns. It’s the second time Christie has quashed Fishermen’s hopes. He vetoed a similar bill in January.

Fishermen’s had retooled the demonstration scheme to try to win over regulators. The reconfigured project consists of six Siemens 4MW turbines installed three miles offshore in state waters. The $220 million demo has secured $50 million in funding from the Department of Energy but must meet certain milestones to get the full amount.

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