Court gives Fishermen's new wind

A New Jersey court has ruled in favor of a motion filed by Fishermen’s Energy to require state utility regulators to reconsider its application to build a 25MW pilot wind project in state waters off Atlantic City, New Jersey.

In April, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU) denied subsidy support from ratepayers for the project, saying it did not provide a “net economic benefit” for the state, was too expensive and exposed them to an unacceptable level of risk if the US Energy Department did not provide financial support.

The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division ruling also requires BPU to acknowledge Fishermen’s proposed energy price of $199.17 per MWh, not $263 per MWh that regulators utilized as a basis for their decision.

The BPU’s move deprived the developer of the opportunity to help finance the Fishermen’s Atlantic City Wind farm (FACW) using proposed state Offshore Renewable Energy Certificates.

It is the first developer to apply for the OREC program that will incentivize 1.1GW of offshore wind energy by 2020.

With Fishermen’s, the OREC process has dragged on for three years, chilling potential commercial offshore wind investment as other developers wait for the process that BPU is administering to become settled.

“This is a big win both for Fishermen’s Energy and the State of New Jersey. We proposed a great project to the BPU, One that creates hundreds of jobs for New Jersey and one that even the BPU’s consultants agree creates tens of millions in net benefits for the state – that is, when evaluated at the price we actually proposed,” says Fishermen’s chief executive Chris Wissemann,

The ruling comes less than two weeks after DOE signed an agreement with the developer that will allow disbursement of up to $46.7m in grant funding over four years to help deploy the project.

DOE in May selected FACW and two other pilot projects for funding.  Fishermen’s will use the money for follow-on design, fabrication and deployment in order to achieve commercial operation by yearend 2016.

Fishermen’s will demonstrate the use of a twisted jacket foundation that is easier to manufacture and install than traditional foundations, helping drive down the cost of energy produced by the offshore wind system.

The project will also act as an “at-sea laboratory” to investigate the interactions between turbines, test new control systems, and provide information about potential environmental impacts of offshore wind, according to DOE.

Full disbursement of DOE funding is contingent on Fishermen’s obtaining a power off-take agreement.  

BPU will award Offshore Renewable Energy Certificates (ORECs) to operators of wind farms on a megawatt-hour production basis.

Investor-owned utilities in the state will be obliged to purchase electricity from the offshore facilities and also ORECS, which they can use to help comply with New Jersey’s renewable portfolio standard.

FACW has all requires state and federal permits.