Since May 2011, when Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy first proposed its plan for an offshore wind farm, technology has changed, so it’s shopping for technology at an Atlantic City conference.
The wind farm still hasn’t been built. The state Board of Public Utilities initially rejected it as being too costly for electricity customers but was subsequently overruled by an appellate court.
On Nov. 21, Fishermen’s Energy will have another hearing before the BPU. But before that, the company plans to negotiate with European manufacturers for new wind turbines, said Paul Gallagher, the company’s chief operating officer.
“Right now we’re reconsidering the field,” Gallagher said. “It’s been a long time. Prices have changed, technology has changed.”
Fishermen’s Energy plans to build as many as six wind turbines about 3 miles off Atlantic City, producing as much as 25 megawatts of power. State-mandated offshore renewable-energy certificates would subsidize the project, much as solar renewable-energy certificates have supported New Jersey’s solar industry.
Gallagher said his company has had a long-term relationship with Chinese manufacturing company XEMC, another potential turbine supplier.
“However, if we have an opportunity to save a great deal of money for ratepayers, then I don’t think we should be locked into something that has taken the BPU three years to decide,” he said.
More efficient wind turbines would help save money.
Fishermen’s Energy sponsors the American Wind Energy Association Offshore Windpower Conference and Exhibition, held Tuesday and today at the Atlantic City Convention Center.
Gallagher said two potential candidates for supplying the turbines, Siemens and Vestas, both attended the conference.
“We’re talking to both of them,” Gallagher said. “We’ll talk to anybody.”
The conference required preregistration and was closed to the public. Exhibitors included marine data collection services, wind farm service vessel companies and renewable-energy consultants.
Robert Carpenter, a senior application engineer with Campbell Scientific, of Logan, Utah, said wind quality makes a difference in turbines that are located onshore versus offshore.
Located at Carpenter’s company booth was a LIDAR system, a device that provides wind measurements.
Carpenter said the technology was “most generally used for offshore applications” where “clean, flat-flowing air” can be found. Clean, in this instance, meaning non-turbulent.
The offshore wind farm proposed by Fishermen’s Energy would be the first of its kind in the state.
“The BPU has the existing case before them that has been handed to them by the appellate court,” Gallagher said. “If they want to discuss things with us, we can talk about settling the case, but maybe we’ll have different options on the table to talk to them about.”
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