Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy on Friday lost another attempt seeking to build windmills three miles off the coast of Atlantic City.
A state appeals court sided with the Board of Public Utility’s authority when it repeatedly rejected the offshore wind project on concerns it would be too costly for everyone who pays an electric bill.
The court noted the state regulatory board “was not persuaded that the risks and costs of using an unproven technology to produce electricity at prices several times the market price were offset by the asserted benefits of the project.”
Fishermen’s Energy Chief Operating Officer Paul Gallagher said Friday the company plans to appeal to the state Supreme Court.
“We’re very disappointed,” he said.
Since 2008, Fishermen’s Energy has been trying to get approval for a five-windmill project that would be the first of its kind in New Jersey.
Supporters and officials with the company have touted the advantages of wind energy, from the environmental impacts of green power to economic benefits.
Gallagher said in December the wind-farm project will create 20 to 25 permanent jobs and at least 350 during construction.
But opponents, including state regulators, worry about the cost of such power.
New Jersey residents already pay some of the highest electricity bills in the country.
Power would be subsidized through renewable-energy credits, which ultimately make the cost of electricity more expensive.
The Board of Public Utilities in November said the recent promise of $47 million in federal loans did not change its position.
The appeal of that decision was filed by Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm LLC, a subsidiary of Fishermen’s Energy.
Even as uncertainty of the wind farm lingered, the company broke ground on a portion of a new Atlantic City facility in December, which had a completion date scheduled for late 2017, Gallagher said.
“Certainly this is a delay,” Gallagher said of Friday’s decision and its impacts on that facility. “Hopefully, if we can move promptly and get to some finality, we can maintain that schedule.”
Fishermen’s had filed an application under the state’s Offshore Wind Economic Development Act for approval of the project, which would be subsidized by state ratepayers.
Wind power is costlier than other, nonrenewable energy.
To make this work financially, wind companies would sell “wind credit” to power suppliers for renewable-energy mandates, similar to how New Jersey has subsidized some solar-power installations.
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