Firm seeks more time for OK on wind turbines off coast

Fishermen's Energy wants to amend an application after harsh criticism by consultants.

Posted: April 11, 2012

TRENTON - Fishermen's Energy, the company likely closest to placing wind turbines off the coast of New Jersey, is seeking more time to file an amended application with state regulators after harsh criticism of its initial proposal by consultants.

The extension request by Cape May-based Fishermen's Energy is to be taken up Wednesday by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

The company wants to put five or six turbines 2.8 miles off the coast of Atlantic City in a $200 million, 25-megawatt project intended to provide enough electricity to power 10,000 homes.

Company spokeswoman Rhonda Jackson said Tuesday it was aiming to file an amended application June 1. It still hopes to be the first admitted into the state's offshore wind-energy program, though the timeline for completion is changing.

Two consulting groups have raised questions about the costs of the project and the documentation supplied by the company, the high cost of the energy that would be generated, the economic benefits claimed, and the technology to be used.

A February report from Boston Pacific Co. and OutSmart found that subsidies for the project would be "quite high," that reported capital costs lacked supporting documentation, and that the price tag for the project was higher than for similar projects.

The project's impact on jobs is also unclear, the consultants wrote, and it might even have a negative effect because of increased electricity prices.

The consultants found that a net benefit to the state hadn't been shown. They also questioned the technology the company proposes to use.

Fishermen's had hoped to have turbines in operation by Labor Day 2013, but the timeline is changing, Jackson said.

The company is still studying the turbines' potential impact on wildlife, awaiting approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and pursuing federal funding, she said.

"I certainly think that we have made every effort and we continue to make every effort, so we are very hopeful," Jackson said.

Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Larry Ragonese noted that a federal call for offshore wind power in New Jersey drew interest from 11 developers totaling more than 12,000 megawatts. Officials said those projects could be online by 2016 or 2017.

"We got more than we anticipated," he said, "so we're in good shape there to really get something moving."

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