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Murphy faces blowback over wind power ‘giveaway’ to Danish firm

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(The Center Square) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy is being criticized for doling out generous tax breaks to a Danish-based energy firm seeking to develop offshore wind.

Murphy signed an agreement last Thursday with Ørsted Wind, a Danish firm, granting the company a tax break on one of two energy projects it is developing off the New Jersey coast.

Under the plan, Orsted will be allowed to keep federal tax credits that were supposed to be passed to New Jersey utility ratepayers to offset the potential for higher electricity rates.

Democrats who approved the legislation last week argued the tax relief was needed to help the company deal with inflation and the lingering impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If we don’t figure out a solution, this doesn’t get done in New Jersey,” Murphy told reporters during a bill signing ceremony. “Either we get this bill done and the industry thrives here, and the jobs that are associated with it, or it goes somewhere else.”

But Republicans ripped the plan, which they said would cost the state an estimated $1 billion and shift the cost of developing offshore wind to taxpayers.

They posted a video on YouTube criticizing Murphy for a “giveaway” of tax revenue to a foreign entity with a spotty record of completing projects.

“Democrats like Gov. Murphy who often complain about corporate welfare had absolutely no problem giving $1 billion to a foreign wind farm developer at the expense of New Jersey ratepayers,” state Sen. Michael Testa, R-Cape May, said in a statement. “Other wind farm developers are already lining up at the trough of big government begging for their own bailouts, which Gov. Murphy is likely to give them.”

“It’s more proof that wind power doesn’t make economic sense without massive government subsidies,” Testa added.

President Joe Biden is pursuing plans to add at least 35 gigawatts of offshore wind in the U.S. by 2030, beginning with Vineyard Wind off the southern coast of Massachusetts. Biden says the plan will boost the nation’s clean energy industry and create jobs.

Orsted’s Ocean Wind I project, which got a green light from the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management last week, calls for building nearly 100 towering wind turbines about 15 miles off the coast of Atlantic City. The project still faces many hurdles, including state and federal approval.

But critics say the rush to construct towering wind turbines off the New Jersey coast raises concerns about the potential impact on the fishing industry, whales and other marine life and tourism in coastal communities.

In February, 30 mayors representing coastal communities wrote to President Joe Biden and Murphy, calling for a suspension of wind power projects off the coast until federal and state governments conduct investigations to determine if activities are a “contributing factor in the recent whale deaths.”

Republican members of the state’s congressional delegation have filed legislation calling for an investigation into the environmental review process for the “rushed development” of offshore wind farms along the New Jersey-New York coastline.

Federal and state environmental officials have said there is no evidence that whale deaths are related to offshore wind development.

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