Friday, January 07, 2005

NJ Offshore Wind Power Report: Best Wind Turbine Sites Beyond State Control

A new report, commissioned by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities has concluded that the best offshore wind turbine sites off the New Jersey coast are located beyond state control. The $300,000 report, New Jersey Offshore Wind Energy: Feasibility Study was produced by Atlantic Renewable Energy Corp., Richmond, Va. for the state BPU.

The study comes on the heals of a 15-month moratorium on offshore windmills imposed by acting Gov. Codey. But the study's conclusion that most of the viable sites are outside the three-nautical mile limit of state jurisdiction appears to severely limit the state's authority over potential wind power projects, such as the 98 turbine Winergy, LLC project (which is proposed at a location 3.5 miles off Monmouth County, NJ).

Federal law provides the U.S Corps of Engineers exclusive authority over projects that are within territorial U.S. waters, but more than three miles from shore, and the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld that exclusive authority on several previous occasions. See e.g, United States v. Maine, 475 U.S. 89 (1986)). Opponents of the Cape Wind Project, a 130 turbine project proposed in Nantucket Sound, recently fought this exclusive grant of authority and lost. The Massachusetts District Court dismissed their challenge to the Corps jurisdiction a short 6 page opinion: Ten Taxpayers Citizen Group v. Cape Wind Associates, Inc., (pdf of case made available via LUCE Wind & Wave Blog).

While opponents of the Cape Wind project have appealed that decision all the way to the Supreme Court, its unlikely that the Court will reverse, if they even decided to review the case. And that means a New Jersey state "moratorium" on offshore wind turbines may be less effective than previously hoped.

News article via Asbury Park Post.

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