ATLANTIC CITY – The company behind a long-debated offshore wind project, which is expected to bring hundreds of jobs to South Jersey, has reconfigured its plans in order to appease concerns from the Board of Public Utilities after losing its most recent legal appeal.
Fisherman’s Energy has planned to bring an offshore wind farm to the ocean off Atlantic City for years, but an extensive legal battle between the company and the BPU has continued to stall its progress.
The Cape May-based developer plans to install turbines that will generate 25-megawatts of power, but the BPU has ruled against it on multiple occasions.
In 2013 the Board called the project financially unstable. A year later, it alleged the energy process proposed by Fisherman’s were too high and just last year it said New Jersey’s taxpayers would be on the hook for too much money if the project fails when it rejected it for a third time.
Fisherman’s Energy has lost its most recent appeal in court against the BPU and has this week announced that it has reconfigured the Atlantic City project to use Siemens Turbines, which are smaller than those originally proposed.
“With the legal challenges behind us, we can now announce progress we have made to reconfigure the project to address the issues that the BPU raised in denying approval last year – namely cost, using proven turbines and traditional sources of project funding,” CEO Chris Wissmann said in a written statement last week.
Siemen’s four-megawatt turbine will replace the five-megawatt Chinese turbines previously proposed for the project, which were made by XEMC.
Fisherman’s will now be working with the BPU on a new application in order to pass its “criteria for approval,” the company said.
The $188 million project is expected to include horizontal drilling down Tennessee Avenue in Atlantic City to the South Jersey Gas building on Absecon Avenue. Previously the company planned for construction to begin in fall of this year and to be on the grid by the end of 2017.
While the BPU said it couldn’t comment on an ongoing procurement that will be going before the Board, local environmental activists are skeptical about the BPU and how they will handle the new developments.
“I think it’s good they are changing their plan because it will force the Christie administration to come up with a new excuse to try to block it,” said Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, who added that the BPU has been stalling both job creation and environmental progress by continuing to deny the Fisherman’s project.
New Jersey had been on track to be the first state in the nation to have an offshore wind project, but with the delays other states have been eyeing their own projects, such as the Cape wind project off the coast of Nantucket.
“Five years ago this administration was pro-wind, but we still don’t have offshore wind in place,” Tittel said. “I think it hurts the state, both economically and environmentally.”
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