NJ rejects offshore windmill project for 2nd time

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) - A company that wants to build a windmill power project off the coast of Atlantic City is heading to court.

Fishermen’s Energy says it will move in state appellate court to have its project reconsidered. The state Board of Public Utilities has denied the plan twice, most recently on a vote Wednesday.

“We are disappointed in this decision but not surprised,” said Paul Gallagher, the company’s chief operating officer. “We are grateful that New Jersey has an independent judiciary and look forward to having the merits of our application finally heard in the Appellate Division.”

The company had wanted the board to wait until the U.S. Department of Energy announced its latest round of grants to fund demonstration offshore wind projects.

Fishermen’s Energy claims the BPU vastly overestimated the price of electricity the windmills would produce.

But the board ruled that a Chinese company that would own 70 percent of the project did not demonstrate financial integrity, and that the firm submitted key financial information in Mandarin Chinese, without a translation that would enable it to be accurately evaluated by the board.

The board said that Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group did not use American accounting standards in asserting its financial strength, and has not shown it can get the necessary federal subsidies. The board said last month the $188 million project would be too risky for electric ratepayers.

The company describes itself on its website as the “cradle of mechanical and electrical products of China.”

The project’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.

In October 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 a million homes.

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

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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Wayne Parry can be reached at http://twitter.com/WayneParryAC

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