Stalled NJ offshore wind project wins $47 million federal grant

Offshore wind turbines are seen in this file image. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

Offshore wind turbines are seen in this file image. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, file)

A proposed offshore wind project in New Jersey has received a new breath of life.

Fishermen’s Energy has won a $47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy — even though the project to build a small wind farm off the Atlantic City coast is currently blocked by New Jersey regulators.

“We would hope that the Board of Public Utilities would reverse their decision,” Fishermen’s President Dan Cohen told NewsWorks, “so that we can proceed with construction and be the first offshore wind farm off of New Jersey and likely in America.”

The Board of Public Utilities says it cannot comment on the project, citing an appeal of its decision filed by Fishermen’s just days before the grant was awarded. According to state filings, the board has voiced concern about the financial viability of the $188 million project.

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“This is a huge difference-maker,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, which supports the wind farm project.

The five wind turbines about three miles offshore would test the waters for future wind development farther out. O’Malley hopes the Department of Energy grant forces the state to reconsider.

“We were poised to be a leader; today, four years later, we’re a laggard,” he said. “And that’s because New Jersey, and the governor, has continued to drag its feet.”

Cohen of Fishermen’s Energy says the wind farm could be fully operational by 2016 — if the Board of Public Utilities reverses its decision soon.

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