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NJ utilities board rejects Nautilus’ 3rd bid for offshore wind project

The state rejected a third bid for the 25-megawatt Nautilus offshore wind project nearly 3 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, saying the cost to ratepayers would be too high and the net economic benefit too low.

On Tuesday, the Board of Public Utilities voted 5-0 to reject the application Nautilus Offshore Wind LLC, which was jointly managed EDF Renewables and Fishermen’s Energy.

“While the exact price is confidential, this cost is much higher than similar facilities in the United States and Europe,” BPU President Joseph L. Fiordaliso said prior to casting his vote. “Simply stated, the Nautilus proposal contains a price that is too high and benefits that are too tenuous.”

Tuesday’s vote followed a roughly 15-minute presentation by Ken Sheehan, director of the division of clean energy at the BPU, who said the Nautilus developers failed to provide much of the necessary documentation.

The BPU said Nautilus’ offshore renewable energy credit purchase price, which is how much ratepayers pay to subsidize the project, was too high given the “unsubstantiated benefits.”

“As required by [the Offshore Wind Economic Development Act], an offshore wind project must demonstrate ‘positive economic and environmental net benefits to the state,’” read a BPU statement issued shortly after the meeting.

“Despite multiple requests during the proceeding, Nautilus did not provide the necessary information so that board staff could properly validate the information,” the statement read.

Sheehan said Nautilus failed to provide inputs and other factors the BPU could use to independently verify the economic benefit claims.

Doug Copeland, a developer with EDF Renewables, denied Nautilus failed to provide the materials the BPU requested.

“We’re very disappointed,” Copeland told reporters following the meeting. “We think the state has missed out on an opportunity … to work with organized labor and the supply chain and ports here in the state.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, in the BPU’s Tuesday afternoon statement, said the decision demonstrates his “administration’s focus on developing a robust offshore wind market,” which includes 3,500 megawatts of offshore wind by 2030 and for the state to be 100 percent reliant on clean energy by 2050.

Later this month is the deadline for applicants looking to develop 1,100 megawatts of offshore wind. Additional 1,200-megawatt solicitations are scheduled for 2020 and 2022.