Sierra Club criticizes BPU over wind project delay

TRENTON – The N.J. Sierra Club expressed disappointment Friday after the Board of Public Utilities withheld support for a wind farm project off Atlantic City’s coast.

Instead, BPU backed its staff, which opposed parts of a proposed settlement reached between applicant Fishermen’s Energy and the state’s Rate Counsel. The Rate Counsel had objected to the burden being placed on ratepayers.

But the Sierra Club today pointed out that time is being wasted.

“Clearly today the BPU put out a lot of hot air when it comes to offshore wind,” Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said.  

“The concern here is not Fisherman’s Energy. It is that BPU is trying to slow down or stop wind projects off our coast.  It looks like they are deliberately trying to come up with ways to delay or sabotage this project and others.”

Earlier this year Rate Counsel said that the pilot project’s proposed cost of about $200 million was too great a risk for ratepayers to shoulder.

A proposed settlement would have shaved about $36 million off that. In addition, Fishermen’s could have saved about $50 million more in renewable energy credits.

If the project ultimately failed, then ratepayers would have been on the hook for about $19 million, BPU staff told the commissioners.

Tittel said BPU has contributed to the problem because it had not developed rules for offshore wind development.

“BPU has no problem subsidizing fossil fuel plants or power lines for dirty coal but what they are doing could jeopardize New Jersey getting $100 million for offshore wind,” Tittel said.

Earlier story:

BPU holds off approval of wind project

Sierra Club criticizes BPU over wind project delay