Sponsors: Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) and Senate Minority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Union).
Synopsis: This bill amends the recent Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which was signed into law with a lot of fanfare by Gov. Chris Christie this past summer. This bill would allow the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to offer up to $100 million in tax credits to a qualified wind turbine manufacturer to locate in the port. The law currently restricts the tax credits to the South Jersey Port District.
What it means: Proponents believe the economic framework of the original bill, offering offshore renewable energy credits to offshore wind farms, will spur new investment off the Jersey coast. If the state has a viable offshore wind industry, it might be able to attract manufacturers to build wind turbines here, which would be a big boost to economic development, according to clean energy advocates and legislators. Lawmakers from northern New Jersey were unhappy the credits were only allowed to be offered by the South Jersey Port District, hence the change in the law.
Key section: This bill would not change the total amount of tax credits the Economic Development Authority is authorized to provide thus would not affect the General Fund through the issuance of additional corporation business tax credits, according to an analysis by the Office of Legislative Services. It is also too early to determine to what extent expanding the definition of “wind energy zones” to include the port district of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey may also serve to reduce the amounts available for other eligible, qualified wind energy facilities from this funding source, OLS said.
Prospects: With the leader of each party listed as a primary sponsor, look for this bill to be approved by both houses before the fall election. The bigger question is whether the lucrative tax credits will be enough to lure a manufacturer to New Jersey. China is investing billions of dollars into renewable energy and giving companies there all sorts of incentives to bolster the industry. New Jersey also faces competition from other eastern states, most of which have embraced the idea of offshore wind farms.