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NJ governor vetoes bill in support of stalled offshore wind farm

NewJersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation that would have required stateregulators to reconsider the application of a stalled offshore wind project.

would have required the stateBoard of Public Utilities to reopen a 30-day period for to resubmit itsapplication for its 25-MW Atlantic City wind farm project. S. 988 passed thestate General Assembly 53-21 on March 14 and the Senate 23-11 on Feb. 11. Itwas vetoed May 2. The Republican governor pocket vetoed a similar bill inJanuary that would have exempted the project from a cost-benefit analysis.

Christiecited in his vetojustification the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which he signed in2010 to spur offshore wind projects but has yet to implement. Christie toldlawmakers that the bill sought to "usurp" authority granted to theBPU under the act by compelling the state regulators to receive offshore windproject applications and take away its "discretion over when it will allowapplicants to submit proposals." Christie concluded, "I cannotendorse a bill that would run contrary to OWEDA's original intent by takingdiscretion away from BPU, the entity responsible for managing energy matters onbehalf of the state."

Environmentaladvocacy group Sierra Club responded to the veto in a news release that blamedthe Christie administration for costing New Jersey jobs and investments byfailing to adopt rules for offshore wind and by holding up projects likeFishermen's Energy.

"SinceGovernor Christie came into office, we've been waiting ever since for thefinancial support from OWEDA. New Jersey should have broken ground years agowith the Fishermen's Energy project," Sierra Club state director JeffTittel said. "We have parcels auctioned off the coast and ready to bebuilt on but Governor Christie continues to stand in the way of making ithappen. New Jersey isn't going to get offshore wind until we get anothergovernor."

Supportersof offshore wind particularly take issue with the BPU's repeated rejection ofFishermen's Energy's project since the signing of the Offshore Wind EconomicDevelopment Act. The board listed concerns over costs, technological viability,and financial integrity of the project's turbine supplier, financier andmajority shareholder in their decisions. A state court in May 2015 upheld theBPU's decision and the state Supreme Court later declined to take up the case.

PaulGallagher, COO and general counsel for Fishermen's Energy, said in a interview that the projectwas now ready to submit a new application after the awarding of a $50 milliongrant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the switching of the project'sturbine supplier to Siemens, and the project qualifying for a 30% federalinvestment tax credit.

Fishermen'sEnergy did not immediately respond for comment.