A bill sponsored by Senator Jim Whelan which would authorize the construction of wind energy facilities on existing and future piers in Atlantic City and statewide was approved by the Senate by a vote of 36-0, receiving final legislative approval.
The bill, S-212, as amended, would authorize wind energy facilities to be constructed on existing and future piers within 500 feet of the mean high water line, so long as the projects meet other regulatory requirements set for wind turbines. The bill would amend Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulations under the Coastal Area Facility Review Act (CAFRA which only allows for water-dependent energy facilities to be constructed within 500 feet of the mean high water line. The bill would ensure that wind energy production would remain as an accessory use to the other purposes of the pier, in order to maintain that no new piers would be constructed for the sole purpose of serving as a platform for a wind energy facility.
The bill was originally inspired by a proposal to build five windmills on Atlantic City’s famous Steel Pier, a 1,000-foot long amusement pier on the boardwalk. The five wind energy turbines were estimated to provide enough power for all the rides and amusements on the pier.
The bill would serve to advance a state policy that currently encourages the development of wind energy in order to help New Jersey meet its goal of tripling the amount of wind power used to 3,000 megawatts by 2020. The 2020 goal amounts to 13 percent of New Jersey’s total energy and would be enough to power 800,000 homes. This would ensure that off-shore wind energy fulfills roughly one half of New Jersey’s requirement, as outlined in 2005 legislation, that 22.5 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
The bill now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.