State regulators on Friday said an offshore-wind project off Atlantic City would be too costly to justify even with the promise of new federal money.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities said the award this year of $47 million in federal loans to Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy does not change its earlier opinion. The five-windmill project proposed for 3 miles off Atlantic City still does not pass the net-benefits test for economics and environmental impact, the board said.
Fishermen’s Energy is appealing the decision to state appellate court.
“The project has the opportunity to bring jobs to Atlantic City at a time when Atlantic City most needs them,” company spokeswoman Rhonda Jackson said.
“It has other associated economic benefits. We’ve already had two national offshore-wind conferences in Atlantic City,” she said. “That attracts hundreds and hundreds of people to the area.”
Jackson said New Jersey was at the forefront of offshore-wind energy when Fishermen’s Energy first proposed its project in 2008. Now several Mid-Atlantic states such as Virginia, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Maryland have overtaken New Jersey in pursuing this technology with its associated manufacturing industry.
The BPU in its decision Friday said the promise of $47 million in federal money does not change its financial analysis about the project and the rate the company proposed charging for wind credits.
Wind energy is significantly more expensive to produce than other forms of non-renewable energy. To compensate, wind companies would sell “wind credits” to energy suppliers who need to comply with renewable-energy mandates.
It’s the same way New Jersey kick-started its solar-energy market through the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits.
Fishermen’s Energy proposed selling its wind credits at a rate of $199 per megawatt hour. The company said it would maintain that rate even if some of the promised federal funding did not materialize.
Fishermen’s Energy must show progress on the project by July 31 of next year or the U.S. Department of Energy could rescind some of its promised funding.
The New Jersey Division of Rate Counsel, which represents electric customers, endorsed the project.
State Senate President Steve Sweeney expressed disappointment with the ruling.
“Why, given the financial crisis that Atlantic City is in, would you vote down a proposal by a company to spend money in Atlantic City, and diversify the city?” Sweeney said in a statement. “Atlantic City is not going to survive on casinos alone, and they have the potential here to build something that the world will be interested in, and to really make a claim to being the Clean Energy Capital of the nation.”
Sweeney expressed frustration about the promise of offshore wind that has gone unfulfilled 2010 when Gov. Chris Christie signed the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act into law.
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding