The developer of a 25-MW pilot offshore wind project, sited three miles from Atlantic City, N.J., plans to challenge state regulators’ unanimous decision on March 20 to deny it energy credits to support construction and financing costs.
The state's Board of Public Utilities (BPU) said the estimated $200-million project would need state subsidies, which would raise New Jersey ratepayers' power costs.
Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy, founded by New Jersey fishermen to help develop an offshore wind industry while also supporting commercial fishing, proposed the five-turbine demonstration project in 2011.
The project already has state permits to build.
But company officials say the board misinterpreted the cost of power produced by the planned project to gain the needed credits.
“Now we must turn to the courts to give meaning to the rule of law, which we believe will ultimately result in an approval of this project,” Paul Gallager, Fishermen’s Energy chief operating officer and general counsel, said in a March 21 statement.
The company soon will file an appeal in a New Jersey appellate court, according to North American Windpower, an industry publication.
Gov. Chris Christie (R) signed into law a requirement that the BPU promote the development of offshore wind through the use of tradable offshore-wind renewable-energy credits.
The New Jersey Energy Master Plan also supports offshore-wind power generation by calling for 1,100 MW to be developed.
In December, BPU staff said the project does not demonstrate positive economic benefits, as required by the law, because it has not credibly shown it will receive federal subsidies to keep the cost low to ratepayers.
BPU staff also said the proposed turbine technology poses an unnecessary technical risk to the project.
Stafanie Brand, of the New Jersey rate counsel, signed last July a negotiated settlement with the company that she said was favorable to ratepayers. “Rate counsel strongly disagrees with the assertions in staff’s position paper that the stipulation is inconsistent with state law,” she said.
The requirements advocated by BPU staff would preclude the approval of any financeable project, Brand said.
The settlement set forth a reasonable, practical and legal way to incentivize offshore-wind projects as required by the law and the energy master plan, Brand said.
Fishermen’s Energy said the board based its rejection of the wind farm on the wrong price for power, which Fishermen's Energy said was $199.17 per MWh.
“The BPU apparently evaluated the project with a price of power at $263/MWh, a figure that is not supported by the record,” the company said.
Company CEO Chris Wissemann said he hopes the BPU will review all the evidence in the record and approve the project, which would create 400 jobs and keep the state competitive in the offshore energy market.
The project's Chinese turbine manufacturer, XEMC, has agreed to build a factory in the state, the company adds.