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New Jersey to close round one of bids for offshore wind

Wind turbines stand in the Baltic 1 offshore wind farm on April 29, 2011 in the Baltic Sea near Zingst, Germany.

Steve Chiotakis: New Jersey today wraps up the first round of applications on its new offshore wind project. The Garden State could be the first in the country to actually start harnessing offshore wind for power.

Marketplace's Eve Troeh reports from the Sustainability Desk, the U.S. lags behind Europe and other countries in getting offshore wind to market.


Eve Troeh: America's windiest land is also no man's land. Wind farms in the plains and deserts need long transmission lines to get power to the people.

Andy Wickless is with Navigant Consulting. He says East Coast waters are the best bet for wind power because of all the big cities nearby.

Andy Wickless: Which can be a plus and a minus. A plus in terms of the amount of transmission you have to build. A minus in terms of potential public backlash.

Backlash has held up one offshore proposal called Cape Wind for about a decade. Its developers want to put turbines in Nantucket Sound.

Cape Wind: The Fight for the Future of Power in America clip: Greenpeace, these are the fishermen that you're trying to put out of business.

That's from a documentary about the fight. It's clean energy activists versus vacationers and local business.

But public opinion's just the beginning. It's taken government agencies a long time to write offshore wind guidelines. And once wind developers do get permits, Andy Wickless says they still need other companies to build transmission lines and utilities to promise to buy the power.

Wickless: If fewer folks were involved, it'd probably go faster.

And motivation helps, too. New Jersey has it, because offshore wind means work, mostly at ports. The huge blades and poles need to be assembled near the water.

Jim Lenard is president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition. He says New Jersey's willing to trade the higher price of wind power for jobs.

Jim Lenard: The developers have to show that the benefits that they're bringing to the state of New Jersey exceed the costs that the ratepayers might be asked to pay.

The first offshore turbines should start spinning next September -- just six of them -- in state waters near Atlantic City. New Jersey's enthusiasm for wind may seem at odds with another move; it just quit a program to trade greenhouse gases.

But Jim Lenard says right now, climate change isn't the way to sell wind power to lawmakers.

Lenard: We recognize that their interests lie more with economic development, job creation and manufacturing.

He says that new script should help offshore wind pick up speed.

I'm Eve Troeh for Marketplace.

About the author

Eve Troeh is News Director at WWNO-FM in New Orleans, La., helping build the first public radio news department in the station’s 40-year history. She reported for the Marketplace Sustainability Desk from 2010 to 2013.
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