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BPU deems Fishermen’s Energy wind proposal complete, review starts

The Board of Public Utilities deemed Fishermen’s Energy/EDF Renewables’ offshore wind application complete on Tuesday, a spokesman said.

It must decide by early November if the small, 25-megawatt demonstration project off Atlantic City will be supported by ratepayer dollars.

Some environmentalists have said the project is too small and state developments have made the need for it obsolete.

The BPU has 90 days from the Aug. 1 date of application to make its decision under the law, said EDF Regional Development Manager Doug Copeland.

Construction could start this winter if the BPU ultimately approves the application, Copeland said.

The two companies submitted a joint petition for the Nautilus Offshore Wind project, saying they have all the needed permits and approvals for a site about 2.8 miles out in state waters.

Construction would start on land early in 2019, and the three-turbine project could be producing electricity by the end of 2020, Copeland said.

He declined to elaborate on the details in the petition but said the cost to the average residential ratepayer through a state subsidy program would be about $1.76 per year.

However, the BPU must examine the application and decide if the cost estimates are reasonable, and if the proposal meets its net benefits standards for both the economy and environment.

It will not have to compete with other wind farm proposals for state subsidies from the Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credit program being created by the BPU, Copeland has said.

“The project was first conceived … in 2009,” said Copeland. “It was intended as a stand-alone that needed to meet the net benefits criteria, but not compete in the general competition with larger projects.”

It was expected to train labor in building wind farms, allow the BPU to do an OREC application from start to finish and prime the supply chain to eventually serve larger projects, he said.

The BPU recently announced draft rules for bidding to provide 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind capacity. A solicitation will be out by end of the year, its representatives have said.

Orsted North America has opened an Atlantic City office and is proposing a much larger, industrial-scale wind farm about 10 miles off Atlantic City.

The Fishermen’s project had previously been rejected by the BPU, which said its electricity would be too expensive.

Fishermen’s Energy Chief Operating Officer Paul Gallagher said earlier this year he had an agreement to sell the company and its project to EDF Renewables, a French company with a lot of experience with offshore wind in Europe and whose U.S. headquarters is in San Diego.

Once approval is final, EDF will take over the Nautilus project completely, Copeland said.