Library filed under Zoning/Planning from New Jersey
Hoboken-based Bluewater Wind, which wants to build a wind turbine park off Delaware's Atlantic coast, is interested in building a pilot project off New Jersey, according to a company official. Meanwhile, New Jersey is seeking proposals for offshore ecological studies - from Seaside Park to Stone Harbor - that would be completed by Sept. 30, 2009, at a cost of up to $4.5 million.
A federal proposal to make New Jersey part of a special corridor for new electric power lines is cause for alarm, a state environmental group contends. "This designation would give utilities the right to use eminent domain to acquire private property to build their lines," said Jeff Tittel, head of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club. It would also encourage the production and transmission of electricity from coal-fired plants at a time when the state is trying to promote clean and renewable energy, Tittle warned.
Offshore wind facilities are expected to have negligible to minor environmental impacts in general - "if the proper siting and mitigation measures are followed," a draft study says. But some activists faulted the draft environmental impact statement by the federal Minerals Management Service. The document covers technologies for tapping offshore wind, wave and current energy. The agency jumped to conclusions about the risks without having adequate information, said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society. "It's grossly premature to conclude," for example, that impacts on birds will be only moderate, Stiles said.
New Jersey's plan to spend $4.5 million to study birds and marine life offshore prior to a pilot project with up to 80 wind turbines has drawn mixed views from activists. "Our ocean deserves a robust, thorough, and scientifically valid study - not this bargain basement, blue-light special," according to a statement from Cynthia A. Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action, a Sandy Hook-based coalition. Birds should be studied for three years before construction of offshore wind farms, according to a 2006 letter from a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service official. The proposed New Jersey ecological study would last for 18 months. While an 18-month study is "not an end-point," it's "a major milestone for moving forward in making informed and appropriate decisions regarding siting of wind turbines," said Eric Stiles, vice president for conservation and stewardship in the New Jersey Audubon Society.
Steve Gallo, executive director of the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, said he is looking for innovative ways to save money for the city, and reduce the cost of his authority's energy needs. One of these ways, he said, is the possibility of installing modern windmills on BMUA controlled land to harness wind gusts off New York Bay to generate power for the Oak Street pump station. "We are trying to use new technology to find ways of saving our energy costs," Gallo said. "This is evident with the recent installation of solar panels in our schools that makes Bayonne the largest non-power company to supply energy on the east coast." Two years ago, the municipal authority in South Plainfield installed a wind-generated turbine to run a station, and with Bayonne surrounded on three sides, Gallo figures he might be able to do the same things. Windmills have also been successfully installed at Atlantic County Utility Authority, and combined with solar panels it generates enough energy to run the plant.
American Transport Systems, of Vineland, told the Cumberland County Economic Development Board Dec. 12 that it has been exploring putting up to 150 wind energy turbines along the Delaware Bay.
Yet, despite the operation of New Jersey’s small wind project since January, there is uncertainty about whether wind farms, particularly gigantic turbines positioned off the region’s coastline, will be embraced here. On Long Island, a 40-turbine project being considered off the South Shore is facing stiff resistance from opponents who argue that the turbines will damage pristine ocean views, fail to deliver cost-effective electricity and create environmental problems. In New Jersey, powerful local politicians have lined up behind wind power, where up to 80 turbines — rising 380 feet or more above the water along the South Jersey coastline — have been proposed to take advantage of the near-constant breezes.
A local lawmaker has asked the Corzine administration to build more than 100 windmills off Atlantic City's shore.
During the past 15 months, this Blue Ribbon Panel has identified myriad costs and benefits related to development of offshore wind turbine facilities in New Jersey’s coastal waters. Because of the lack of basic scientific data, however, this Panel cannot characterize the appropriateness of offshore wind development for this state’s coastal waters. Nonetheless, this Panel has found that New Jersey is facing a serious and growing energy crisis that must be addressed. New Jersey must assume a leadership role and set an example of responsible development of energy technologies that are reliable, renewable, and low-or zero-emission.
In an ambitious $3 billion plan, the nation's largest power generator has proposed building a 550-mile power line stretched atop 13-story towers to bring surplus electricity from coal-fired plants in Appalachia and the Midwest to the power-hungry eastern seaboard.
Offshore wind turbines may not provide substantial benefits to the state's environment and could come with some risks, a report by released today states.