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'You can fish' our turbines wind energy developer Atlantic Shores tells N.J. fishermen

Source: 
Asbury Park Press

There are many details to be worked out in Atlantic Shores Offshore Wind's lease site, which lies 9 to 20 miles off the coast between Barnegat Light and Atlantic City.

However, the offshore wind energy developer made a concerted effort Wednesday to assure fishermen they won't be excluded from the roughly 183,000-acre wind farm.

"You're welcome to fish by the structures, we just ask that you don't tie up to them," Doug Copeland, Atlantic Shores' development manager told about 75 people that attended a webinar Wednesday evening the developer hosted for fishermen.

Atlantic Shores, a 50/50 partnership between Shell New Energies US LLC and EDF Renewables North America, is six years from getting its wind farm up and running, according to its own timeline.

If it's successful with the public process, which includes approval of its environmental impact report, the developer's goal is delivering three gigawatts of wind energy, enough to power 1.5 million homes to one of the most densely urban areas in the country, New Jersey and New York.

One gigawatt is equal to 1,000 megawatts. The site would provide 40% of Governor Phil Murphy's goal of 7,500 megawatts of offshore wind-generated energy by 2035. That's enough juice to power nearly 3.5 million homes and crucial to Murphy's ambitious plan to put the state on a course to reach a 100% clean energy economy by 2050.

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Just how many and where Atlantic Offshore's wind turbines will be erected in the lease site will be worked out starting with survey operations that will begin this spring and end in August.

Jennifer Daniels, Atlantic Shores' development director, said they're working on the optimal layout of the turbines. She said they want to align them with the vessel traffic flow in the lease site, which sits in 60- to 100-foot water depths. They will be no less than one nautical mile apart, she said.

Also to be determined are what their foundations will look like, where the cables will lie and where the export cables will come ashore. The group is eying locations in Atlantic County and Monmouth County to bring the cables to land.

What wind energy could look like

Paul Eidman a small fly charter captain from Oceanport, coordinated two fishing trips for wind energy enthusiasts on the party boat Seven B's out of Point Judith, Rhode Island to the Block Island Wind Farm, located three miles from the island's southeast coast.

The Block Island site was the first ocean wind farm developed on the coast of the United States. The developer was Denmark-based Ørsted, an international leader in offshore wind production. The farm went online in 2016.

Eidman got close enough to the Block Island Wind Farm in Rhode Island to hear the "woosh", of the blades as they rotated down from the 12 o'clock position.

"They're somewhere between technology and art sculpture," Eidman said of the 600-foot tall wind turbines.

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Besides generating 30 megawatts of wind energy with its five turbines and powering all of Block Island, according to Ørsted, the farm draws both fishermen and tourists curious for an up-close look at the spinning blades.

Ørsted spokesperson Gabe Martinez said there are few to no restrictions on fishing or tourist activities around the site, other than not physically tying up to the turbines.

"It's become a bit of a recreational fishing hot spot," Martinez told the Asbury Park Press.

Recreational fishing refers to the for-hire fishing industry that consists of charter and party boats that take rod and reel fishermen out for excursions on the ocean.

Ørsted is also building a 1,100-megawatt offshore wind farm south of Atlantic City. Coincidentally, it outbid Atlantic Offshore for that site.

Atlantic Offshore said they will likely generate the same attraction for fishermen and tourists on its wind farm.

However, just how well the turbines attract fish is still under much study. While fish do migrate to structure for habitat, some studies, such as one recently conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that black sea bass, an important species commercially and recreationally to New Jersey, are sensitive to sounds created by wind turbines.

A few webinar attendees on Wednesday also raised concerns over the wind farms' electromagnetic fields' chances of scaring away fish.

Daniels said the cables will be buried a minimum of six feet below the surface, resulting in a negligible impact on fish.

Also hanging in the balance of this wind farm, and others in the pipeline, are jobs.

By 2030 the United States offshore wind industry, which has 11 lease sites handpicked by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on the East Coast, including four off the New Jersey coast, is projected to support 83,000 jobs, draw $57 billion in investments and create $25 billion in annual economic output.

When Jersey Shore native Dan Radel is not reporting the news, you can find him in a college classroom where he is a history professor. Reach him @danielradelapp; 732-643-4072; dradel@gannettnj.com.

This article originally appeared on Asbury Park Press: 'You can fish' our turbines wind energy developer Atlantic Shores tells N.J. fishermen

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(c)2021 the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.)

Visit the Asbury Park Press (Neptune, N.J.) at www.app.com

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