N.J. allows windmills for electric energy on piers

Tuesday, 08 February 2011 18:43

steelpier020811_optSen. Whelan says Atlantic City's Steel Pier will have one

Legislation which authorizes the construction of windmill energy facilities on existing and future piers along the New Jersey coast — including the famous steel pier in Atlantic City — has been signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie.

For Sen. Jim Whelan (D-Atlantic), the bill's sponsor, the signing is more exciting than a diving horse.

"Renewable energy offers a unique opportunity to boost our state's economy and be responsible stewards of the environment at the same time," Whelan said Tuesday. "As a result, we're seeing a lot of attention being paid to the green energy market, and New Jersey is already making inroads in terms of off-shore wind energy generation. This new law will help propel us even further, making New Jersey a national leader in renewable energy and allowing us to expand our green energy capacity and put more people to work."

The new law (S-212), authorizes 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 law amends state Department of Environmental Protection regulations under the Coastal Area Facility Review Act which only allows for water-dependent energy facilities to be constructed within 500 feet of the mean high water line.

The law is designed to ensure that wind energy production remains as an accessory use to the other purposes of the pier, in order to maintain that no new piers will be constructed for the sole purpose of serving as a platform for a wind energy facility.

The law was originally inspired by a proposal to build five windmills on the 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.

"Atlantic City's Steel Pier is an important part of our city's history and culture, and with an investment in green energy generation, could play an important part of our future," Whelan said. "By allowing the Steel Pier to act as a test site for wind energy production on piers statewide, we can make Atlantic City the capital of New Jersey's emerging renewable energy industry and reduce our reliance on foreign oil. This project will be a great economic boon for the people of Atlantic City, creating jobs and cheaper, cleaner energy, and I look forward to more energy independence and economic activity along our boardwalk."

In August, Christie signed legislation sponsored by Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney (D-Gloucester) to expand the state's wind energy manufacturing industry, and ensure that wind energy resources and generators are built in-state. Another bill sponsored by Whelan, which is currently under consideration by the governor, would allow for solar generation facilities to be constructed on top of closed landfills and quarries.

"We're doing our part in New Jersey to expand the green energy industry and put people back to work," Whelan said. "Wind generation on our state's piers is a component in a larger strategy to promote renewable energy and take advantage of this cutting edge technology to boost our economy statewide."