The U.S. Department of Energy on Jan. 6 released both a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) and final Environmental Assessment (EA) on the Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm project, to be located off of New Jersey.
Based upon the EA, DOE has determined that authorizing the expenditure of federal funding to Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm LLC to construct and operate up to six wind turbine generators, for an offshore wind demonstration project, approximately 2.8 nautical miles off the coast of Atlantic City, New Jersey, would not be a major federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment within the meaning of the National Environmental Policy Act. Therefore, an environmental impact statement is not required, and DOE is issuing the Finding of No Significant Impact.
In February 2011, DOE released the National Offshore Wind Strategy, in partnership with the Department of the Interior (DOI). The strategy includes and addresses two critical objectives in pursuit of overcoming barriers to commercial offshore wind development in the US:
- Reducing the cost of energy through technology development to ensure competitiveness with other electrical generation sources; and
- Reducing deployment timelines and uncertainties limiting US offshore wind project development.
In March 2012, DOE issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to provide support for regionally-diverse Advanced Technology Demonstration Projects through collaborative partnerships. By providing funding, technical assistance, and government coordination to accelerate deployment of these demonstration projects, DOE can help eliminate uncertainties, mitigate risks, and support the private sector in creating a robust U.S. offshore wind energy industry.
Initially seven applicants were selected by DOE for negotiation of award under the FOA. The awards were divided up into five distinct budget periods. Upon completion of budget period 1, DOE conducted a down-select decision, whereby only three of the seven applicants will be eligible for funding for budget periods 2-5. Fishermen’s Atlantic City Windfarm (FACW) was one of three projects selected by DOE.
This proposed project would consist of up to six wind turbine generators that would generate up to approximately 25 MW of electricity and the necessary electrical transmission facilities (i.e., undersea and underground cable) to connect the wind farm to an existing electrical substation, located in Atlantic City, for interconnection to the regional power grid). Electrical power generated would be sold to the market through the state’s energy regulating agency, the Board of Public Utilities (BPU), or directly to a large independent power consumer.
FACW started the various state and federal permitting processes for their offshore wind farm in 2009. State and federal agency consultation has been completed as part of permitting. To date, all required state and federal permits have been obtained for the offshore wind farm, the final EA noted.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) prepared an EA as part of its permitting process. During the permit review, the USACE received concurrence under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. The USACE also coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard regarding issues related to navigation, with the US Environmental Protection Agency regarding air quality, and Federal Aviation Administration regarding aviation safety.
The project has been modified since issuance of the Army permit, and DOE is reviewing the entire scope of the modified project; USACE is only reviewing those portions of the original project that have been modified. The USACE issued a public notice for the proposed permit modification in February 2015.
Construction would be supported by a construction staging area(s) and a construction port. Onshore support facilities would be located at existing waterfront industrial or commercial sites in the cities of Camden and Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Each turbine would have a nameplate capacity of no more than 5 MW and a blade rotor diameter of no more than 427 feet. The turbine array would be oriented in one row parallel to the coastline running northeast to southwest. Spacing between the turbines would be approximately 3,543 feet. Each of the wind turbines would be supported by a jacket-type foundation, consisting of steel pipe piles for anchoring into the seabed, and a steel center caisson onto which the transition piece and turbine tower would be installed.
The inter-array transmission cable from each turbine would be linked to the export cable that would make landfall at a point in Atlantic City, and then continue underground to the existing Huron Substation, located along Absecon Avenue.