ATLANTIC CITY — With coastal communities from Cape Cod to Virginia buzzing over the possibility of wind turbines rising in coastal waters, the wind power industry's biggest advertisement is right here alongside U.S. Route 30.
"There's hundreds of these in the country, and thousands in the world. But most of them are in the middle of nowhere," said Richard S. Dovey, president of the Atlantic County Utilities Authority, where five turbines at the wastewater treatment plant stand 380 feet tall — higher than most of the city's casino hotels.
On right, Gregory A. DeBrosse, manager of the Rutgers University Cape Shore Laboratory, with oysters under commercial cultivation on Delaware Bay. The lab supplies disease-resistant seed oysters to growers.
These are slightly smaller, land-based versions of wind-generator arrays that have been proposed for offshore areas of New England and the Mid-Atlantic states. Since the Atlantic City installation started cranking power Dec. 12 for the utility's wastewater treatment plant here, the plant has had no shortage of electricity — or visitors.
One delegation came from Suffolk County, N.Y., to get some idea of what's being proposed in Long Island waters. A consultant for the Coast Guard has called, to see how turbines might work at its stations at Cape May and Sandy Hook.
When the utilities authority signed the contract with its wind-power vendors,projections were that wind would provide 50 percent of the plant's power over the course of the year. In windy February, the turbines churned out 70 percent.
Reliability is over 90 percent, and the on-site engineer has less maintenance than expected, Dovey said: "They thought he would have to go up once a week. But they've been running so well he's only had to go up four times."
Wind power is here, and in a new coastal assessment report, the state Department of Environmental Protection is increasingly concerned about the possibility of offshore windmills — along with potential oil and gas drilling after a 2012 federal moratorium expires.
Energy industry to grow
The draft report calls industrialization of the ocean "a major emergent issue." Changes to federal tax incentives, improved wind generation technology, escalating energy prices and tightening supplies have all combined to make offshore energy development more likely, the report says... Read the rest of today's Asbury Park Press story here, and comment blow.