Opportunity to lead turbine industry may be gone with the wind, N.J. lawmakers warn

 Senate President Steve Sweeney (left), Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley, and Senator Jim Whelan urge the BPU to implement legislation that would encourage the development of offshore wind projects (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

Senate President Steve Sweeney (left), Environment New Jersey director Doug O'Malley, and Senator Jim Whelan urge the BPU to implement legislation that would encourage the development of offshore wind projects (Phil Gregory/for NewsWorks)

An environmental group and the leader of the New Jersey Senate are blaming the state Board of Public Utilities for a delay in developing offshore wind projects.

More than three years after Gov. Chris Christie signed legislation to provide financial incentives to attract windmill turbine manufacturers to New Jersey, the BPU has not come up with regulations to implement the law.

That means the Garden State could miss out on some high-paying jobs, said Senate President Steve Sweeney.

“You’re going to see the windmills offshore because it’s going to happen. It’s going to happen in the future. You’re going to see windmills,” he said Thursday. “The only problem is they’re going to be manufactured elsewhere, whether it’s in Maryland or Massachusetts, and we’re not going to get the benefit.”

New Jersey is missing out on a chance to be the manufacturing hub for the industry, said state Sen. Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic.

Offshore wind projects would help reduce the pollution in the state caused by burning fossil fuels, according to Doug O’Malley, the director of Environment New Jersey.

“New Jersey could reduce its global warming emissions by over 825,000 metric tons by the year 2018 which is equivalent to the carbon pollution of over 171,000 passenger vehicles,” he said.

The strong winds a few miles off the coast mean the Garden State has the highest potential on the East Coast to develop offshore wind, but the promise of a being a national leader in the industry is fading fast, O’Malley said.

Sweeney said he’ll pursue all options including litigation to get the BPU to act.

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