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Rep. Pallone: BPU Should Look at Offshore Wind Farms Over Long Term

7-18-14

The U.S. government wants to lease hundreds of thousands of acres off the Jersey Shore to companies who will build wind farms, but New Jersey regulators haven’t come up with a mechanism to allow them to finance the wind farm so the state’s alternative energy goals are still stalled. Congressman Frank Pallone told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that the Board of Public Utilities needs to look at the offshore wind farm proposals over the long term because he thinks that eventually when they become more common, the costs will decrease.

Pallone said that his understanding is that the New Jersey BPU’s problem with the wind farm proposals is that the BPU thinks that it is going to be too costly to the rate payers because energy prices could go up. He said that he thinks there has to be a way around that, like looking at it over the long term. He said that as with any new innovation, as it gets more utilized and more common, then the costs go down. He said he thinks that if the state does not jump into it and say there may be some consequences up front, then the state will never actually reap the benefits.

Pallone said that he thinks the Fisherman’s Energy proposal is good and he thinks the state should try it and the costs will go down eventually. He said there is tremendous potential offshore for the wind farms. He said the wind generated on shore is not as good as the wind generated off shore so that is where the state can find some new renewable resources.

Pallone has urged Gov. Chris Christie not to pull out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and he said that is because right now the Obama administration has proposed a new carbon rule to address climate change to try to reduce the number of carbon emissions, which he thinks will go into effect within the next year or so. He said that if you look at the way that rule is designed, it encourages regional agreements with states. So if states get together, they can meet those standards a lot easier than if they just do it on their own, said Pallone. He said that he thinks that is a reason to rethink pulling out because now the state will have to meet national standards on its own. He said it doesn’t make sense for New Jersey to go at that alone and that the state would be better off with a regional agreement.

“I think the bottom line is if the state has to do it on its own, it is going to be much more difficult and that will increase costs,” said Pallone.

Pallone announced today the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection is going to be funded 100 percent by the federal government for buying out properties that were demolished during Hurricane Sandy. When asked what that will mean to shore areas, Pallone said, “I think right now we really just need to get this money out. I have been critical of the Christie administration because we are now getting close to the second round, if you will, of funding and a tremendous amount of the money that was supposed to go out to businesses and homeowners in the first round still hasn’t gone out.”

Pallone said that he thinks that the money has not gone out because the administration has had to fire contractors. He said that his recommendation to the Department of Community Affairs was to administer the programs on its own and not hire a third party or outside contractors because Community Affairs could probably do it better even if it meant that the department had to hire more people.

Pallone said that some media reports a few weeks ago said that the federal deficit had been reduced in part because the Sandy money was not spent, and he said that is not good. He said that means that a lot of his constituents are not able to rebuild. He said now it is at the point where homes or properties need to be bought out or demolished and the state needs that money to start over.