Fishermen’s Energy COO: Off-Shore Wind Farm Project Will Go to Court

The Christie administration rejected a proposal to build an off-shore wind farm, but the federal government awarded Fishermen’s Energy a $47 million grant. Fisherman’s Energy COO and General Counsel Paul Gallagher told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that they are going to have the matter litigated in court because he believes that an independent judiciary will give a fair hearing on the project’s merits.

The project is a fully permitted 25 mega watt five turbine wind farm in state water, just three miles off the boardwalk in Atlantic City, explained Gallagher. He said that the company only lacks a market to sell power to. He said that the state, by virtue of the Off-Shore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, had provided a mechanism to create wind farms. Fishermen’s Energy was engaged in the Board of Public Utilities process for three years, but in March and April the BPU declined to approve the submission. He said that the company is going to have the matter litigated in court, where he believes that an independent judiciary will give it a fair hearing on its merits.

Gallagher said that there is not a penny of state money at risk during the process. He said that over the three years that the submission has been pending, Fishermen’s Energy spent more than $10 million trying to get to this point and the company has fully reimbursed the BPU for the costs of its consultants — about $480,000. He said that there is no risk of losing tax dollars anywhere in the process.

“New Jersey has a statute which provides for an off-shore renewable energy credit, which is based on the solar history that has been positive in New Jersey. That was the model that was given to us by the statute. We followed the statute, we showed that we had brought net benefits — economic, environmental — to the state,” said Gallagher. “We had a price. The BPU decided that they did not like the price that we gave; they used a different price. That price did not meet the net benefits test. It was a higher price. That mechanism is the means of distributing the electricity over all of the rate payers of the state through the major utilities, by virtue of selling energy into the auction that is conducted every year.”

He said that assuming Fishermen’s Energy is given an answer by this time next year, upland construction would be started the next fall. He said that the company would be producing energy, if not by the end of 2016 then during 2017.