New Jersey opens window for offshore wind power applications

NEW YORK Tue May 17, 2011 8:41am EDT

Wind turbines are seen at Thanet Offshore Wind Farm off the Kent coast in southern England September 23, 2010. New Jersey opened the window for applications to build what could be the nation's first offshore wind power projects. REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth

Wind turbines are seen at Thanet Offshore Wind Farm off the Kent coast in southern England September 23, 2010. New Jersey opened the window for applications to build what could be the nation's first offshore wind power projects.

Credit: Reuters/Stefan Wermuth

NEW YORK (Reuters) - New Jersey opened the window for applications to build what could be the nation's first offshore wind power projects.

There are currently no offshore wind projects in U.S. waters, but several companies in many states have been jockeying for years to be the first to build such a wind farm.

A few firms have already announced plans to build wind projects off the New Jersey coast, including Fishermen's Energy, Public Service Enterprise Group Inc and Deepwater Wind.

"The wind power movement is providing us with a unique opportunity to advance energy as industry," Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement Monday.

"By doing so, we have the ability to leverage our tremendous resources with ground-breaking technologies, allowing New Jersey to increase its use of renewable energy sources while advancing an industry that will lead to long term job creation," Christie said.

The state Board of Public Utilities will accept applications from prospective developers until June 14.

To spur offshore development, the U.S. Department of the Interior this week issued a "call for nominations" for wind project leases off the Jersey coast.

The New Jersey governor last year signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act, which provides financial incentives and tax credits to businesses that construct manufacturing, assembly and water access facilities to support offshore wind projects.

The Act authorized the creation of an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Certificate (OREC) program and rules that developers must follow to obtain approval and receive ORECs.

The state said it wants applicants to demonstrate financial integrity and sufficient access to capital to allow for a reasonable expectation of project completion.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by John Picinich)