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Bill to restart Fishermen’s Energy offshore wind farm advances

A bill to restart the Fishermen’s Energy wind farm project for the ocean off Atlantic City passed an Assembly committee Thursday and now moves to the full Assembly.

It would require the state Board of Public Utilities to open a 90-day period for the submission of an amended application for a wind energy project in state waters offshore of Atlantic City.

While Fisherman’s Energy is not mentioned by name, it is the only such wind project that meets the criteria of the bill, A-2485, sponsored by Vince Mazzeo and John Armato, D-Atlantic; and Wayne DeAngelo, D-Mercer, Middlesex.

Paul Gallagher, an attorney and Fishermen’s Energy’s chief operating officer, said the company is ready.

“We have been quiet, but maintained our permits and our relationships,” Gallagher said. “This project is fully permitted and ready to build.”

If all moves quickly at the BPU, he said the project could begin in the fall.

Fishermen’s Energy proposed a 24-megawatt, six-turbine demonstration project three miles off the coast of Atlantic City.

In 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded the company a $47 million grant, with the stipulation that it secure a power purchaser before the end of 2016.

The company failed to finalize an agreement in time, and the grant was rescinded.

The BPU had also denied Fishermen’s Energy application two times, citing the high cost of its energy to the ratepayer.

The Legislature twice passed similar bills to A-2485, Gallagher said, but Gov. Chris Christie vetoed them.

“There is a new governor now, new leadership and a new sense of optimism in New Jersey where offshore Heavy surf crashes wind is going,” Gallagher An unnecessary sign said.

Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order in January to implement the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act of 2010, which languished under Christie.

The law creates ratepayer-financing of wind field development through an Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program.

The order committed the state to quickly generate 1,100 megawatts annually of offshore wind energy and 3,500 megawatts of generation by the year 2030 – enough to power 1.5 million homes, according to Murphy.

The Danish firm Orsted North America, which already runs more than 20 such facilities in European waters, is planning a large windfarm about 10 miles off Atlantic City in federal waters.