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.
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