It seems that each time the US gets close to having its first offshore wind farm, the project gets scuttled.
Even a tiny, 25 megawatt (MW) wind farm planned off the coast of Atlantic City has been rejected by New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities.
Yet the state has been actively pursuing offshore wind through for years and even has a target of 3 gigawatts of wind by 2020, enough to power 800,000 homes.
The site for this demonstration wind farm is in the state’s windiest waters and doesn’t conflict with shipping lanes. It would be built by a unique New Jersey-based company, Fishermen’s Energy.
The offshore wind developer was founded by New Jersey commercial fishermen to responsibly develop renewable energy while protecting the fishing industry.
Built in shallow water, it would be a great first project for Fishermen’s as well as an ideal showcase for the first offshore wind farm in the US, since it’s close to Atlantic City, a major tourist attraction, they say.
Back in 2009, Fishermen’s was among the first awarded an offshore exploratory lease for a US offshore wind farm. Just 6 turbines would be installed, 2.8 miles off the coast, to supply 10,000 homes.
It has all the permits and conducted all the surveys, but the state is nervous about financing. What if the federal wind credit and/or grants go away and the state is left holding the bag?
The local utility, although supportive of the project, is concerned about its impact on ratepayers.
"This entire matter centers on a cost to a typical residential customer that is less than a cup of coffee each year," bemoans Fishermen’s CEO Chris Wissemann. "There are few industries that can be attracted to New Jersey for such a low price tag, much less one that has been proven to show that benefits exceed costs."
The company says it will keep working toward a solution but is postponing construction from this year until late 2015. It also has plans for a much larger offshore wind farm – 350 MW 11 miles off the coast – for which it’s been doing testing for over a year. It has those approvals too.