New Jersey appeals court rules public utilities board must reconsider off-shore windmill plan



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ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey — A company that wants to build a windmill power project off the coast of Atlantic City has won a victory in court.

A New Jersey appeals ruled in favor of Fishermen's Energy in a dispute over the company's plan.

The state Board of Public Utilities had denied approval for the project in April. The board ruled that a Chinese company that would own 70 percent of the project did not demonstrate financial integrity and hadn't shown it could get the necessary federal subsidies.

Fisherman's Energy appealed the rejection, and Monday's ruling will require the board to reconsider the project.

The company said in a statement Monday that the appeals court decision requires that the board factor into its reconsideration the company's executing of an agreement for a $47 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The company also said that the board must acknowledge the company's proposed price of $199 per megawatt hour instead of the $263 per megawatt hour it cited in its rejection of the project.

Environmental groups cheered the court decision Monday.

"The shore is in the cross-hairs of climate change, and off-shore wind is our best bet to jumpstart a clean energy economy," Doug O'Malley, director of Environment New Jersey, said in a statement. "Today's news is another sign of strength for the Fishermen's Energy project and off-shore wind — and a shot across the bow for the capricious nature the BPU has treated off-shore wind."

Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, said that the board will now have a harder time trying to deny Fisherman's Energy's applications.

The energy department selected Fishermen's Energy in May as one of three windmill projects it says will lower costs, increase performance and overcome hurdles to installing more utility-scale turbines in American waters.

The energy department said that each of the projects it approved for funding must meet several benchmarks within the next year, including receiving all necessary approvals.

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