Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wind energy out to hook fishing industry support

With up to 30 square miles of fishing territory at stake, plans by three developers to build wind-energy farms off New Jersey's coast could have been in very troubled waters had the developers tried to put the area off limits to the state's commercial and recreational fishing industries.

Any such concerns were allayed last Thursday when Lance Miller, chief of policy and planning at the state Board of Public Utilities, announced at a meeting of the Marine Fisheries Council that none of the companies plan to impose any such restrictions.

" There have been no collisions with wind farms in Europe and I'm sure our (fishing boat)captains are just as good," Miller said.

As Richard Degener reports in the Press of Atlantic City,

"...this means that commercial fishermen will be able to harvest their bounty between the turbines while anglers, pot fishermen and even scuba divers could fish right next to the structures."

Degener writes that there even is some discussion of "installing buoys near the turbines so fishermen can tie up and not have to anchor in deep water."

The three companies exploring the potential for generating electricity from offshore wind turbines are Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey, Bluewater Wind New Jersey Energy and Garden State Offshore Energy. They already have leased areas from the U.S. Department of Interior to install meteorological towers to gather data to see whether wind farms are feasible.

For an interesting article on why this is necessary, see today's EnergBiz Insider's Forecasting Wind

One of the three companies, Bluewater Wind, has been in rocky financial shape since its primary Australian financier, Babcock and Brown, was waylaid by the international economic tailspin triggered by the U.S. banking industry implosion.

But Bluewater Wind's president Peter Mandelstam says he's confident a new investor is coming to the company's rescue.

In a September 6 story in The News Journal, (Bluewater works on new financing) Mandelstam said a deal should be completed within 60 days with a new ownership partner and that Babcock and Brown will be out of the project by the end of the year.

In addition to the New Jersey project, Bluewater plans to erect at least 79 turbines off the coast of Delaware.

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