News

N.J. Takes the Lead in Wind Power Plans

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

BY TOM JOHNSON

Star-Ledger Staff

Three days after the state approved its first offshore wind farm, the Corzine administration yesterday stepped up its efforts to ensure wind turbines supply a bigger portion of New Jersey's electricity.

Corzine, speaking at a news conference in Atlantic City, said wind farms should supply 1,000 megawatts of electricity -- or enough to power about 375,000 homes -- by 2012, eight years sooner than the state's draft energy master plan currently mandates. The governor also wants to increase the projected wind capacity by 2020 to 3,000 megawatts, or enough to supply bout 1 million homes.

The move comes on the heels of the state choosing a joint venture between a private Hoboken developer and a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group to build a 346-megawatt wind farm about 20 miles off the Jersey coast. The pilot project, estimated to cost more than $1 billion, won out over four competing proposals.

In ramping up the state's wind energy targets, Corzine said it would allow some of the other competing bidders to win opportunities to build wind farms. One of the those bidders, Bluewater Wind, already has won the right to build an offshore wind project off of Delaware.

"Bluewater Wind is prepared and ready to help the state meet its great renewable energy goals," said Jim Lanard, the firm's director of strategic planning.

The move to shift to cleaner sources of electricity has been pushed by environmentalists and the administration, both of whom see the strategy as crucial to state efforts to dramatically reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. New Jersey's draft energy master plan calls for having the state obtain at least 20 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar and wind by 2020.

The pilot project approved last week is a joint venture of Garden State Offshore Energy, which includes Deepwater Wind, and PSEG Renewable Energy. The expansion of the wind capacity targets meshes with the strategy of Newark-based PSEG, which has signaled it wants to be deeply involved in the state's efforts to develop cleaner sources of energy.

Ralph Izzo, PSEG's chief executive, praised the move to raise the targets for wind energy. "It sends the signal that we intend to be in this for the long term," Izzo said in a telephone interview after the event.

Dena Mottola Jaborska, executive director of Environment New Jersey, also welcomed the move. "It's the most visionary plan to promote offshore wind energy in the nation," she said.

Tom Johnson may be reached at tjohnson@starledger.com or (973) 392-5972.