Once again, the state is being asked to approve a small offshore-wind pilot project a few miles from Atlantic City.
In an application submitted last week, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is being asked to authorize a 25-megawatt demonstration project about three miles offshore of the resort town, a version of the project the state agency rejected as too costly on two previous occasions.
The latest proposal, submitted by EDF Renewables North America and Fishermen’s Energy, is vying to become the first offshore-wind farm in New Jersey, a project that would provide insight to the state as it moves to develop the nation’s largest offshore-wind industry.
The Murphy administration has committed to building 3,500 megawatts of offshore-wind capacity, the most aggressive goal of any state, and the proposal, dubbed the Nautilus Offshore Wind Project, could give a jump start to those efforts.
The application shows substantial net benefits to the state at low cost to New Jersey electric consumers — who will bear the costs — according to a press release issued by the developers, EDF Renewables North America and Fishermen’s Energy.
Cost of ‘a small cup of coffee’ for ratepayers
But Doug Copeland, regional development manager for EDF, declined to say what the project will cost overall nor its specific impact on ratepayers. “We are estimating it will cost a small cup of coffee,’’ he said.
Under legislation Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law earlier this spring, the BPU has 90 days to review the project. If it’s approved within that time, the developer will qualify for a more lucrative investment tax credit of 18 percent, according to Copeland. Offshore-wind developers hoping to build farther offshore hope to qualify for a 12 percent investment tax credit if they win approval next year.
The pilot proposal has long been pushed by lawmakers and some environmentalists as a demonstration of the benefits to the state of local investment, job opportunities, and offshore-wind development.
But with other large new offshore-wind projects vying to build off the coast, some clean-energy advocates argue a pilot is no longer necessary given the offshore-wind farms long operating off the coasts of Europe and elsewhere, as well as the first project in the U.S. near Block Island.
Other wind farms
If approved, the Nautilus Offshore Wind Project could be online as early as 2020, with wind turbines turning off the coast before Murphy runs for another term. None of the proposed big offshore-wind farms are likely to be operating until 2023 at the earliest.
“The Fishermen’s Energy project will finally get a fair review from the BPU and its fate will be decided on its merits,’’ said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.
Beyond the Nautilus project, Copeland said the company will submit bids to participate in an upcoming lease sale in the New York Bight to be held by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.
In New Jersey, four developers are expected to participate in a solicitation to be held by the state BPU sometime this year, or early next year. All four have secured leases in areas not far off the Jersey coast.