ENVIRONMENT

BPU Rejects Offshore Wind Farm Proposal

By Christie Duffy
Correspondent

The offshore power source plan for five turbines just off the coast of Atlantic City is fully permitted. And the project has a $47 million grant from the federal government.

But at today’s Board of Public Utilities meeting, state staffers recommended that the board vote no.

“Staff believes that the supplemental record provides insufficient evidence for the board to change its prior finding that the project does not demonstrate financial integrity,” said BPU Legal Specialist Jake Gertsman.

In short, the state doesn’t think the project has enough funding and that it won’t benefit Jersey ratepayers. The board agreed. Offshore wind farm denied.

It’s not the first time the board’s shot down the proposal from Fishermen’s Energy. They’ve appealed in court and that’s where the company’s COO says they’ll be on Monday.

“This thing is not over. This project will get built someday,” Fishermen’s Energy COO Paul Gallagher said.

Gallagher says the wind farm would create 500 jobs. And that they’ve agreed to have every penny needed in the bank 30 days prior to construction.

“We aren’t quite sure what more financial integrity you could produce,” he said.

The breeze is ripe right off of New Jersey’s coastline. It’s been given high marks by the Department of Energy.

With hotbeds of headwinds off the coast of Cape May, Atlantic City and southern Long Beach Island.

But the cost to build and operate this technology is steep compared to traditional power. Offshore wind is second only to solar at $243 per megawatt hour. Compare that to natural gas which costs $66 to produce.

Fishermen’s Energy’s COO swears the turbines wouldn’t cost taxpayers a penny, but concedes there would be a small increase in energy rates.

“We figure it to be about a cup of coffee a year to the average ratepayer,” Gallagher said.

The Christie administration has said that wind power is too intermittent and costly. But the governor also signed a law back in 2010 specifically to develop offshore wind projects, with a catch that all turbine plans pass a test balancing cost against economic benefits for the state.

Fishermen’s Energy has until June 30 of next year if they want to turn this whole thing around. That’s when that federal grant for $47 million is set to expire. And some of that money has already been spent. Meaning it would just be a waste.