Back when he was working full-time in New Jersey, instead of trekking campaign trails for himself or an old chum, Gov. Christie signed a bill laying the foundation for his state to lead the nation in helping the fledgling wind energy industry expand to the sea.
Funny how that changed once Christie began his run for president. Other than blowing his own hot air, he lost interest in wind power. Under Christie's direction, the state Board of Public Utilities created bureaucratic delays to impede the progress of an industry that had already received federal funding to locate turbines three miles off the Atlantic City coast.
With New Jersey relegated to the sidelines, Rhode Island has taken its place in becoming the first state with an offshore wind farm. It should begin generating electricity for 17,000 homes in two months.
New Jersey won't be first, but that doesn't mean it's out of the game. With its relatively steady offshore winds, and stellar academic institutions turning out the future energy pioneers that the industry needs, the state still has an important role to play in weaning the nation off of polluting fossil fuels that affect climate change.
Christie should be the last person who needs to be reminded of global warming's impact on this state, which in recent years has been increasingly swamped by flooding. He also should see how green energy jobs could help replace Atlantic City's dying casino economy.
There are obvious drawbacks to wind power. Wind doesn't always blow at favorable speeds, so the industry must develop storage capacity to keep the lights on during slow wind periods. Wind's limitations also means backup energy sources must remain available for use as well. But it doesn't mean wind isn't a viable alternative.
The BPU also cited the cost of turning wind into a reliable energy source as a concern. But that criticism flies in the face of estimates by Fisherman's Energy, which wants to build off the Atlantic City coast, that their project may cost utility customers only an additional $1 year.
In fact, overall renewable energy costs are down. Berkeley National Laboratory noted last year that solar energy costs had reached an all-time low as project costs dropped and newer plants generated power more efficiently. An improved battery for homes that can store a half-day's power will make solar energy even more affordable.