Tax credits to spur offshore wind energy investment form the basis of a bipartisan federal bill introduced by New Jersey U.S. Senator Robert Menended (D-NJ).

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The Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act would provide investment tax credits for the first 3,000 megawatts, which bill sponsors estimate to equate to about 600 turbines.

Delaware Democrat Tom Carper, a member of the Senate Envionment and Public Works Committee, and Maine Republican Susan Collins co-sponsor the measure with Menendez, a senior member of the Finance Committee. Ten more Democrats signed on as sponsors.

The bill would upgrade the status of temporary credits now issued by Congress, the last of which expires at the end of 2019.

"Offshore facilities," in the context of the bill, are defined as being situated on US coastal waters, including territorial seas, the outer Continental Shelf, and the exclusive economic zone, as well as inland navigable waterways such as the Great Lakes.

The measure is one in a series of alternative energy proposals that Menendez has generated, including lobbying for federal leasing of space off the New Jersey coast for wind power development, and obtaining a U.S. Department of Energy grant for a wind farm in the waters off Atlantic City that was shot down by New Jersey officials.

"Investing in clean, renewable energy sources like wind is both good for the economy and our environment," Menendez said in prepared comments. "This is smart policy that grows jobs, keeps the U.S. at the forefront of the latest cutting edge technology, increases our global economic competitiveness, and makes our nation more secure by reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy. New Jersey, with its vast Atlantic shoreline, is well-positioned to benefit from this legislation and to lead the nation in the development of offshore wind technology."

Proponents cite a University of Delaware report that estimates a 330-gigawatt produciton capability in the Atlantic, which researchers believe can power the entire East Coast while creating new jobs and growing the nation's economy.

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