The New Jersey Offshore Wind Economic Development Act turns out to be more like the “perfect storm” for that state’s economy — news that does not bode well for supporters of developing an industrial wind park in Lake Michigan. The Beacon Hill Institute has released a cost-benefit study that concludes that off-shore wind development in New Jersey will cost jobs and hurt the state’s economy.
The New Jersey experiment in mandating off-shore wind development will result in higher electric bills, with the average household paying an additional $431, commercial business $3,504, and industrial businesses $109,335 during the life of the project. According to the study, New Jersey will employ 2,219 fewer workers by 2017 than without the policy.
One might argue that the cost is worth the environmental benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, the study finds that off-shore wind development also scores low on environmental benefit, the chief culprit being that the project can only be counted on to generate electricity 34 percent of the time. Making matters worse, wind tends to blow the least during peak demand: hot summer days. Because of the unreliability of wind power, much of the environmental benefit is lost due to the need to supplement wind power with other energy sources, most often natural gas. The backup natural gas power plant must be idling even when not in use to provide for critical electricity reliability.
The Beacon Hill cost-benefit analysis of off-shore wind development in New Jersey is a must-read for Michigan legislators and our governor. Michigan leaders should require a cost- benefit analysis of proposed off-shore wind development in the Great Lakes before allowing any project to proceed. Off-shore wind projects pose a threat to Michigan’s environment and would have a potential negative impact on the state’s moribund economy — especially hurting the state’s tourism industry.