Fishermen’s Energy has again asked New Jersey regulators to halt a review of its planned offshore wind development to give it time to counter claims that the project represents bad value for the state, Recharge has learned.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) agreed in August to suspend the review until next Monday (17 September) – the latest in a string of extensions to a process that already stretches back to May last year.
Fishermen’s Energy – which plans to build a 25-30MW demonstration wind farm some 4.5km off Atlantic City – hopes to use the interlude to refute claims by consultants working for state authorities that the project does not make economic sense for consumers.
If that finding is eventually upheld by BPU, the project would not be eligible for taxpayer financing that will be channelled through an offshore wind renewable energy credit (OREC) programme.
Fishermen’s disputes various economic and technical arguments and data in the reports, and intends to respond to them.
“Based on the facts and circumstances, and in the interest of preserving resources, I find that FACW’s request for an extension is reasonable,” BPU President Robert M. Hanna says in his order, which is posted on the board’s website. FACW refers to the project name Fishermen’s Atlantic City Wind Farm.
But Hanna notes that BPU’s consideration of the project has been ongoing since 19 May 2011, when it was first submitted, and has included multiple requests for extensions beyond the 180-day statutory review period.
Hanna adds that should Fishermen’s decide to request changes to the already-amended application, the developer must reimburse the state for costs associated with reviewing it.
BPU has already dedicated significant financial and expert resources to reviewing the application, he adds.
Fishermen’s spokeswoman Rhonda Jackson tells Recharge that the latest request for a BPU review delay should be taken within the proper context.
“Offshore wind is a new industry and nothing like this has been done before. The review process is new for us, BPU and the rate counsel. Everyone is trying hard to make this a really strong and responsible project,” she says.
The project in July got a final permit from the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), clearing the way for construction of the demonstration wind farm.
New Jersey regulators had earlier approved plans by Fishermen’s to lay a cable under the resort’s beach and boardwalk that will link the turbines to an onshore electrical substation.
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