The Garden State is cleaning up its energy act, one town at a time.
Until last October, the tallest structure in Ocean Gate was the water tower. Reaching 138 feet into the air, the gray steel tank was the sole silhouette rising above the town’s tree line.
But now a second structure punctuates the skyline. A town-owned wind turbine, it eclipses the water tower by seven feet and looms large over the one-story bungalows that line Ocean Gate’s streets.
The turbine has become a point of pride for residents of this sleepy Barnegat Bay community. It’s the first in New Jersey created and owned by a municipality. With its construction, the people of Ocean Gate see themselves as having taken a considerable step toward not just reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, but also saving some serious cash and helping the country work toward energy independence from foreign sources.
By this fall, Ocean Gate should have a second wind turbine installed. Once it’s running, more than half the town’s municipal electricity needs—for the firehouse, municipal building, community center, and water treatment plant—will be provided by renewable energy. How did a half-square-mile town of 2,200 people with only two restaurants, a deli, a beauty parlor, and an auto body shop find itself at the forefront of the green revolution?
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