PERTH AMBOY — Councilman Fernando Gonzalez applauded the Assembly Telecommunications and Utilities Committee, which approved legislation, sponsored by two Middlesex County Democrats, that would expand an existing law to provide up to $100 million in state tax credits for wind energy facilities.
Gonzalez said the state aid could help turn a 100-acre waterfront site in Perth Amboy into a hub of wind turbine manufacturing that might bring hundreds of green-energy jobs to the city as a result of the bill sponsored by Assemblymen John S. Wisniewski and Upendra J. Chivukula.
Gonzalez said Perth Amboy would be an ideal location for green manufacturing companies because it has easy access to major highways and rail lines as well as Newark Liberty International Airport, in addition to the deep-water port.
“The port not only features deep water, with direct access to the entire Atlantic region, but is also New Jersey’s most centrally located port,” said the official, Barry Rosengarten, chairman of both the Business Improvement District and Urban Enterprise Zone advisory boards. “The site is sheltered by Staten Island and can easily accommodate the large barges and shipping vessels required to move wind turbine towers and their components to their bases in the Atlantic.”
Gonzalez and Rosengarten said the city has struggled as other industries have left, but Perth Amboy still possesses a talented labor pool that would benefit from any economic stimulus provided by new green energy technology.
In August 2010, Gov. Chris Christie signed into law legislation benefiting the Gloucester County community of Paulsboro, on the Delaware River, aimed at making New Jersey a leader in erecting offshore wind turbines.
The Wisniewski/Chivukula amendment would make sites other than Paulsboro eligible for the tax breaks in support of offshore wind, said Gonzalez, who noted that the total combined capacity of wind power in America is 43,461 megawatts, making the United States second in the world, behind China.
Gonzalez said more than 100 companies across the nation are producing components for wind turbines, employing thousands of workers in the manufacture of parts as varied as towers, composite blades, bearings and gears.
“Many existing companies in traditional manufacturing states have retooled to enter the wind industry,” said Gonzalez. “The U.S. Department of Energy has envisioned that wind power could supply 20 percent of all U.S. electricity by 2030, including one-fifth of that total from offshore wind power.”
“Offshore wind energy is a clean, domestic, renewable resource that can assist the U.S. in meeting energy, environmental, and economic challenges,” said Gonzalez. “A robust U.S. offshore wind industry could generate tens of thousands of jobs and billions of dollars of economic activity.”
There have been no offshore wind plants constructed in the United States, but officials say incentives for manufacturing and construction companies could position several New Jersey ports to become leading staging and assembly areas.
In 2007, New Jersey awarded a $4.4 million contract to conduct an 18-month Ocean/Wind Power Ecological Baseline Study, becoming the first state to sponsor an ocean and wind power study before allowing renewable energy developers to study and build off its shores.
“New Jersey already is a national leader in solar energy production, and now we will have the ability to finally tap into the potential of our offshore winds and become a leader in this emergent technology,” said Gonzalez. “The BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and instability in the Middle-East highlight the need for clean, sustainable energy that we can produce here at home.”
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