Despite receiving a harsh blow from New Jersey regulators in March, offshore wind developer Fishermen's Energy is showing more signs that it intends to keep pushing forward with its 25 MW Atlantic City demonstration project.
Officials and engineers from Fishermen's, XEMC-Darwind in the Netherlands and XEMC in China recently visited the $100 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded turbine test facility at Clemson University in South Carolina. Fishermen's Energy says it plans to utilize the facility to test and pre-commission the XEMC 5 MW offshore wind turbine.
The developer proposes to install five direct-drive XEMC-Darwind XD115 5 MW machines at its Atlantic City project and says it hopes to finalize an agreement in four to six weeks and start testing in the second quarter of 2015.
"It gives us the opportunity to test, commission and fine-tune the turbine on land and make any adjustments that may be required before installation in the ocean," says Paul Gallagher, Fishermen's chief operating officer and general counsel. "We expect the testing to validate that this state-of-the-art turbine will come online quickly and perform as expected."
In March, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) issued an order rejecting the Fishermen's project application. The BPU's approval would have allowed the developer to use state offshore renewable energy certificates (ORECs) as a funding mechanism, but the regulators ruled that the project would cost ratepayers too much. Furthermore, the board cited concerns regarding the developer's decision to switch turbine suppliers several times.
Earlier this month, Fishermen's asked the BPU to reconsider its decision and claimed that the regulators mistakenly based the decision on a $263/MWh OREC price when the actual proposed price was $199.17/MWh. If the board does not approve the proposal, the developer says it plans to appeal to the New Jersey Superior Court for a full hearing, which could take 12 to 14 months.
"We are extremely optimistic about our opportunity for success in the appellate court," says Gallagher.
In addition, Fishermen's Energy says it has made a final presentation to the DOE for a follow-up offshore wind grant. The developer was one of seven companies to receive initial DOE funding in 2012 and is now competing for a $47 million grant. Fishermen's says it expects the DOE to make its final decision in May.