Fishermen's appeals BPU pilot ruling

Fishermen’s Energy is appealing the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities’ March decision to turn down its 25MW pilot offshore wind project, calling on regulators to reexamine “a number of apparent misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the record.”

In their ruling, commissioners cited findings by BPU staff that the project did not provide a “net economic benefit” for the state, is too expensive and creates an unacceptable level of risk for ratepayers if federal sources of funding don’t materialize.

Fishermen’s is the first developer to apply for New Jersey’s subsidy programme that will incentivize 1.1GW of offshore wind energy by 2020. It 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.

The $200m project, which would be located in state waters off Atlantic City, has all other regulatory approvals.

“Given that Fishermen’s Energy proposed power price is unambiguously $199.17 per MWh but the Board reviewed the project based on a $263 price, suggested that the Board’s price is inappropriate,” chief executive Chris Wissemann says.

He also contends that there is no ratepayer risk as this was a precondition to gain support for the project by the New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel, an independent state agency that represents the interests of electricity users.

Fishermen’s is competing with five other developers for a second round of US Energy Department funding that will enable three of them to demonstrated advanced offshore wind technology.  DOE will award three developers $46.6m each through 2017.

IF BPU upholds its earlier decision, Fishermen’s has the option of a legal appeal that would be filed in the Appellate Division of the Superior Court.