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With Gore, New Jersey announces aggressive wind energy goals

November 19, 2019 GMT
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While first lady Tammy Murphy, center, looks on, former Vice President Al Gore, right, shake hands with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy after a signing ceremony at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Murphy signed an executive order that commits the state to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity through wind energy by 2035. That's more than double the goal Murphy previously set of 3,500 megawatts by 2030. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
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While first lady Tammy Murphy, center, looks on, former Vice President Al Gore, right, shake hands with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy after a signing ceremony at Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. Murphy signed an executive order that commits the state to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity through wind energy by 2035. That's more than double the goal Murphy previously set of 3,500 megawatts by 2030. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

JERSEY CITY, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey is doubling down on expanding its wind energy production, and then some.

Flanked by former Vice President Al Gore, a longtime climate activist, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order Tuesday that commits the state to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity through wind energy by 2035.

That’s more than double the 3,500 megawatt goal Murphy set for 2030. Murphy said if the goal is realized, wind energy could power half the state’s energy needs and about 3.2 million homes.

“We are putting ourselves on a steeper curve, and I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t totally confident in our ability to crest this hill,” Murphy said at Liberty Science Center.

The announcement drew praise from New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel, who called it “a huge step in the right direction.”

In June, the state chose Danish company Orsted to build a wind energy project off the coast of Atlantic City that would generate 1,100 megawatts of electricity and power half a million homes.

Orsted has said it hopes to have the project up and running in 2024, and is considering using the existing power plant infrastructure at the shuttered Oyster Creek nuclear plant site about 30 miles north of Atlantic City.

The signing of the order “sends a signal to the global offshore wind industry that New Jersey will be a major hub for the supply chain for many years,” Orsted said in an emailed statement.

The state’s public utilities board estimated in June that the project will cause an estimated monthly bill increase of $1.46 for residential customers, $13.05 for commercial customers and just over $110 for industrial customers.

In an emailed statement, the New Jersey Business and Industry Association expressed support for the goals but cautioned that the cost to consumers must be a central part of planning.

“Given New Jersey’s very high cost of living and high taxes, the state will need a well-thought out process that observes and mitigates the potential added expense to our overburdened residents and businesses,” the organization said.

Fishermen also have expressed concern at the effect the wind turbines could have on their industry.

Gore called Tuesday’s order “a really significant accomplishment” and praised New Jersey for its commitment to renewable energy, including solar, and its growing position as a hub for the manufacture of turbines for the wind energy market.

“This is the life-or-death battle for those of us who are privileged to be alive in these first decades of the 21st century,” he said, referring to the dangers posed by climate change. “We have to rise to this challenge.”