Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Offshore Wind Farm Projects Proposed For New Jersey

Bluewater Wind is proposing building a 1,000 mw offshore wind power project 11 miles off Ocean City.

What could be wrong with this? Well, it would figure that the NIMBY and environmentalists are opposed and are commited to slowing down any such project:
A pilot project to install dozens of turbines off the coast is scheduled to be approved next week and will act as a cornerstone in Governor Corzine's push for renewable energy.

Five companies have submitted proposals for a $19 million Board of Public Utilities grant that state officials say will boost the project. Plans range from 74 towering wind turbines a few miles off the coast of Atlantic City to 225 smaller ones off Seaside Park.

The 350 megawatts generated in this first wave will not make a huge dent in the amount of coal, natural gas or nuclear energy used to generate the almost 20,000 megawatts needed in New Jersey. But advocates hope this wind farm will lead to more.

"We need a new way to generate power, and offshore wind is essential to our future energy demands," said Jeanne Fox, the BPU president.

The decision, expected on Oct. 3, could make New Jersey the first state to have an offshore wind farm, although Delaware officials approved a plan this summer.

Land-based wind turbines have been providing electricity everywhere from Atlantic City to West Texas in recent years. But even though the wind is strongest at sea, offshore wind farms have never been built in the U.S., largely because of the enormous construction costs, environmental concerns, and community objections that a 250-foot turbine would mar picturesque seaside views.

That is changing after the success of offshore wind farms in Europe that have shown minimal environmental impact. Some are built far enough off the coast that they are barely seen.
Just because the environmentalists lost their case in Europe doesn't mean that they wont be successful in the US. They've been quite successful in slowing down alternative energy projects, claiming everything from harm to fish to migratory birds. Expect both to be used in the NJ wind power project, especially since New Jersey straddles a major flyway for migratory birds.

These groups claim that the construction would disrupt sea life in the area, increase pollution during construction, and boat traffic for servicing the turbines could affect whale populations. Apparently these groups haven't heard that dumping used subway cars have built reefs that encourage new habitat for all manner of aquatic life and encourage sport fishing and diving excursions that boost local economies. This is why I consider these groups to be nothing more than zero-growth eco-leftists. They stand in the way of any progress or development, regardless of the benefits.

Further, it's curious how the Record claims that Gov. Corzine is supporting the construction of wind power projects even as he's not actually pushed the agencies responsible for approving these projects to move ahead quicker. He's dragging his feet on the proposals, and every day that approvals aren't given are another day that the state has to rely on fossil fuels - which Gov. Corzine is hoping for the state to reduce in consumption. The state is studying the issue to death, and the earliest any of these projects can move forward is 2011. They're going to study the issue to death, which tells you all you need to know about their ostensible claim that the alternative energy projects are needed to reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. If the situation was as dire as the global warming activists like Corzine claim, where's the urgency to move these projects forward?

Still, the key issue comes down to money. It's far more expensive to build offshore wind power projects than land based construction. Those costs will have to be passed on to the ultimate consumers - rate payers. In the long term, this might reduce energy costs, but that's unclear at best.

New Jersey's reluctance to site wind power projects on land continues - don't expect to see wind farms in the Highlands either. That follows municipalities moving forward to block wind turbine installations in Wayne and several other towns around the state.

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