Company trying again for wind farm off A.C.

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - April 9, 2014

Fishermen's Energy filed an appeal Monday with the state Board of Public Utilities, saying the agency erred when it rejected the plan last month.

The company claims the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities vastly overestimated the price of electricity the windmills would produce. Fishermen's Energy claims the board reviewed a price of $263 per megawatt hour, but its real price is $199.

One of the board's main reasons for rejecting the $188 million proposal was its contention that it was too risky for ratepayers.

Chris Wissemann, the company's CEO, said Fishermen's Energy is appealing the denial "to clarify a number of apparent misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the record."

The board did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

It rejected the plan to build a windmill farm three miles off the state's southern coast, deciding it placed too much potential risk of soaring electric bills for ratepayers. The proposal's five turbines would have generated about 25 megawatts of electricity, but depended on a mixture of subsidies and federal grants to make sure ratepayers didn't get stuck with sky-high bills.

Wissemann said the company would assume the risk of getting those subsidies to protect ratepayers.

In Oct. 2008, then-Gov. Jon Corzine announced plans to make New Jersey a world leader in wind energy, calling for the state to triple the amount of wind power it plans to use by 2020 to 3,000 megawatts. That would be 13 percent of New Jersey's total energy, enough to power between 800,000 to just under 1 million homes.

The state's current energy master plan calls for it to develop 1,100 megawatts of offshore power by 2020.

In Atlantic City, the local utilities authority has a mainland wind farm consisting of five windmills that generate 7.5 megawatts, enough energy to power approximately 2,500 homes. It powers a wastewater treatment plant, with surplus energy going to the area power grid.

Fishermen's Energy, which launched a test buoy into the ocean in 2010 to gather data on wind conditions and environmental resources in the area, said at the time it had hoped to eventually place 66 turbines offshore, capable of powering 50,000 homes.

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