A.C. Project to Employ More than 200 Construction Workers
By Chris Colabella
For many years, talk of harnessing the wind to produce enough energy for use by the masses was just that…talk. However, after receiving the Green Light and up to $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for an offshore wind technology demonstration project, Cape May-based Fishermen’s Energy intends to harvest the wind and the sea, side by side, in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner.
Fishermen’s Energy is gearing up to construct a demonstration offshore wind farm, potentially the first in the country. The project would make “Atlantic City the birthplace of offshore wind” in the United States, said Rhonda Jackson, communications director.
While the company received approvals for the five-turbine wind project from the N.J. Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, it is awaiting final regulatory approval from the N.J. Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
The project, which will generate 25 megawatts of power, will be located 2.8 miles offshore Atlantic City. Each of the five turbines will be spaced about one-quarter of a mile apart. After the BPU gives the go-ahead, the company will focus on contractor selection for the project. Jackson says it will make every effort to seek out New Jersey vendors, looking to employ 240 construction workers and create 35 permanent jobs.
Fishermen’s Energy is one of seven U.S. companies tapped by the DOE to participate in offshore wind energy demonstration projects. Each company will receive up to $4 million in funding to complete the engineering, site evaluation, and planning phase of its project.
This is part of a six-year $180 million DOE initiative to “capture” the potential of wind energy off the American coastlines.
Of course, there are many onshore wind farms in the U.S. – the most notable local one has its wind turbines visible from downtown Atlantic City. Additionally, there are myriad offshore wind farms in Europe and Asia; the technology was first implemented in those regions over 20 years ago.
Fishermen’s Energy hopes to be the first to market in the U.S. with an offshore wind farm – almost three miles offshore.
“There are many benefits associated with offshore wind technology. Ask the fishermen,” suggested Jackson, “they will be quick to tell you the wind is a lot stronger offshore than onshore – no question about that.”
Offshore makes sense over onshore in New Jersey, she continued, because “there is no space in N.J. where you could put enough wind turbines to generate the energy needed for our population; that amount of energy can only be generated offshore.”
New Jersey is now positioned to be a leader in driving the long term energy solution, noted Chris Wissemann, CEO of Fishermen’s Energy. “This project will create hundreds of jobs, help to rebuild New Jersey’s infrastructure, and attract a new industry to New Jersey helping to reinvigorate the economy.”
If plans stay on schedule, the company says it will start construction this year and be – in the water – and up and running by late 2014.
“If Fishermen’s Energy is successful in starting the project’s onshore construction in 2013 and installation of the turbines by 2014, the project has a great chance to qualify for Investment Tax Credits, which will ultimately have a lower price impact for the New Jersey ratepayers,” Jackson said.
Following initial phase completion, the DOE will choose three projects to receive additional funding to pay for the design, fabrication, and deployment in an effort to commercialize operation by 2017. In total, the three chosen projects will be eligible for up to $47 million over four years. Beyond the initial funding for the demonstration phase, however, future capital infusion is subject to congressional appropriations.
“The Fishermen’s Energy demonstration project will become a showcase for offshore wind. Atlantic City is a perfect host for demonstration of this new technology,” said Jackson. “This project is the catalyst needed to jumpstart the offshore wind industry in New Jersey and it sends the right signals to manufacturers that New Jersey is open for business.”
Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit www.cisleads.com or call 800- to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.