New Jersey Lags Other States in Wind Power Projects

Report from the American Wind Energy Association finds wind power industry grew by 39 percent in 2009, but surge did not include any new capacity in New Jersey

New Jersey is losing ground to other states in efforts to attract wind projects to provide electricity to its businesses and residents.

A new report from the American Wind Energy Association found the wind power industry grew by 39 percent, adding close to 10,000 megawatts of new generating capacity in 2009.

The burst in projects, enough to power about 2.4 million homes, did not include any new capacity in New Jersey where three developers are preparing plans to build offshore wind farms near Atlantic City. The developers have yet to win federal and state regulatory approvals to move forward.

New Jersey is hoping to build 3,000 mw of wind capacity offshore by the year 2020, according to its Energy Master Plan. It is a goal many experts in the sector say will be difficult to achieve given the slow progress of the three pilot projects off Atlantic City. They were envisioned being online in 2013, but that goal may be difficult to reach because of delays in obtaining necessary data to see if there is enough wind to make the projects feasible.

Demonstrating Viable Wind Power

Still, both national and state wind proponents said last year’s record, boosted by federal legislation enacted by Congress, demonstrates the viability of wind power. Texas led the nation in adding 2,292 mw of wind capacity. New York was the only Northeast state to crack the top six, adding 568 mw.

“The U.S. wind energy industry shattered all installation records in 2009, chalking up the Recovery Act as a historic success in creating jobs, avoiding carbon and protecting consumers,’’ said Denise Bode, CEO of trade organization American Wind Energy Association.

Jim Lanard, managing director of the Deepwater Wind project, one of the proposed wind farms in New Jersey, said it is not surprising there were no wind installations in the state last year, given the population density, it is almost impossible to develop any utility-scale project on land. But Lanard remains bullish on New Jersey’s offshore wind prospects.

“It’s one of the best locations along the eastern seaboard,’’ Lanard said. “It has a flat, straight coastline. It has the load near the shore and it has wonderful interconnection potential nearby. It’s really ideal.’’

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