New Jersey is far out in front of other East Coast states with its plans for offshore wind power – and could become a front line in the gathering political battle between old and new energy industries.
Four proposed projects would build up to 1,750 megawatts of wind-driven power off New Jersey. One early demonstration project by Fishermen’s Energy – a consortium of New Jersey captains and seafood businesses who reason their experience perfectly qualifies them to get in on the business early – may become the East Coast’s first offshore wind power array, with six turbines in sight of Atlantic City casinos.
Those developers still have years of federal permitting before they can build in the windiest regions 10 miles or more off the beach. But questions already are being raised about the ultimate costs to consumers.
New Jersey’s Division of Rate Counsel estimates that building 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capability could cost $5.6 billion over the next 20 years and cost average ratepayers $5 to $8 surcharges on their monthly bills.
“The green economy represents a fantastic opportunity. . . . However, as we all know, renewable energy is currently very expensive,” rate counsel director Stefanie Brand told legislators last June, as they considered legislation to hasten offshore wind-energy projects.
U.S. Department of Energy estimates stack up these comparative costs for one megawatt per hour of electricity coming from power plants that come on line in 2016:
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