Windmill plan off Atlantic City rejected; firm to appeal to New Jersey's highest court



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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — A company that wants to build windmills off the coast of Atlantic City will take its case to the New Jersey Supreme Court following an appellate court's rejection of the plan.

A state appeals court ruled against Fishermen's Energy on Friday morning. The firm wants to put five windmills about 3 miles off the coast.

Company CEO Chris Wissemann said Fishermen's Energy will appeal to the high court within the next few weeks.

"The court deferred to the Board of Public Utilities' judgment that our proposed Chinese partner did not have English-language financials," he said.

New Jersey energy regulators have rejected the plan three times, claiming among other things Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group, which would own 70 percent of the project, did not demonstrate financial integrity.

Wissemann said the company would consider cutting ties with the Chinese firm and seeking a new partner if state regulators want them to do so.

"We are completely open to changing if they consider that an obstacle," he said. "We are disappointed by this decision. The project meets the spirit and letter of the Offshore Wind Development Act, bringing jobs and investment into the state and improving the environment."

The U.S. Department of Energy promised up to $47 million for the project in May 2014. But the state utilities board ruled in November that the project can't advance without guarantees of at least $100 million in federal subsidies.

In April 2014, the utilities board said that the firm submitted key financial information in Mandarin Chinese, without a translation that would enable it to be accurately evaluated by regulators. The board said that Xiangtan Electric did not use American accounting standards in asserting its financial strength, and has not shown it can get the necessary federal subsidies.

The project's five turbines would generate about 25 megawatts of electricity, but depend on a mixture of subsidies and federal grants to make sure ratepayers don't get stuck with sky-high bills.

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 hoped to eventually place 66 turbines offshore, capable of powering 50,000 homes.


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

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