Harvesting Wind Energy Offshore
If funding is successfully obtained and legal hurdles are overcome, construction of America's first wind farm will begin in 2012.
This need for both money and legal approval definitely creates strange bedfellows in the clean energy industry.
The good news is that a Cape May County company took a step closer to building the nation's first offshore wind farm off Atlantic City.
What's involved in even getting to this first step?
Fishermen's Energy of Cape May had to secure coastal permits from the state Department of Environmental Protection to erect six wind turbines and stretch an underground cable from the project site 2.5 miles off the resort to a junction box behind the Tennessee Avenue Boardwalk.
Then, the company needed approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The company also needed approval from the Statehouse Commission for Green Acres to stretch its electric cable 7 feet beneath the Atlantic City beach.
On top of all that, the company has to prepare 12 months of wildlife observations at the project site - particularly of marine mammals like whales and dolphins — for submission to the Army Corps, the lead federal agency for this project.
Without a doubt, there is a great deal of red tape, negotiations, contracts, and legalese to muck through before any offshore wind farm starts cranking out electricity.
To further muddy the waters concerning the real cost of building an offshore wind farm, a renewable-energy program will be launched to allow polluters to buy offshore-wind credits. The credits are sold as a means to finance the building of offshore-wind turbines.
This is a peculiar context in which polluters get to buy the rights to pollute even as they pay for what might, in the long term, reduce pollution.
No one ever said that the rise of clean energy had to be logical.
The turbines off Atlantic City are expected to generate less than 25 megawatts. Is the production of this amount of energy even enough to supply the electrical needs of the city? Is 25 megawatts enough to justify the sales of off-shore wind credits that allow polluters to carry on with business as usual?