They lost their bid for an appeal to New Jersey’s state Supreme Court, but the Fishermen’s Energy group says they are already looking at a new design for their wind energy demonstration project.

“I don’t think it would take us long at all,” said Paul J. Gallagher Sr., CEO and general counsel for Fishermen’s Energy, a consortium that includes local fishing and seafood businesses that decided years ago to get in on offshore wind energy rather than oppose it.

Now the group is looking at a revised $220 million project that would include six 4-megawatt Siemens turbines, to be built about three miles off the Atlantic City beaches. The original plan for five 5-megawatt machines was roundly rejected by the state Board of Public Utilities.

It was analogous to the Deepwater Wind five-turbine project, now being built near Block Island, R.I. Despite a $47 million aid commitment from the U.S. Department of Energy, New Jersey utility regulators refused to approve the Atlantic City project, contending it carried too much risk and costs for ratepayers. Last week, Fishermen’s Energy learned the state high court would not hear their appeal.

In truth, the venture got off to a shaky start in 2014 when Chinese partners Xiangtan Electric Manufacturing Group submitted key financial information to state regulators in Mandarin, without an English translation. Relations went downhill from there. Now backers hope severing ties with Xiangtan and designing to Siemens turbines – widely used in the European offshore industry – can win the BPU’s confidence.

But wind energy advocates suspect more is going on. Gov. Chris Christie is pursuing the Republican presidential nomination, a quest that needs to avoid alienating GOP primary voters and donors who dislike government subsidies for renewable energy – something the nascent offshore wind power industry needs to get a foothold.

Early on, the Christie administration and state lawmakers set a goal of having more than 1,000 megawatts of offshore power in the state’s energy mix. But the Board of Public Utilities has yet to draft rules for implementing that plan.

“There were promises made last summer. They say they are going to hire a consultant to get it done. I haven’t seen anything yet,” Gallagher said.

It’s quite a contrast to Rhode Island, where Deepwater CEO Jeff Grybowski has backing from the state’s Democratic political leadership, including a rate structure to support offshore wind development. With Blount Boats building the first U.S. offshore wind farm crewboat and Deepwater staging its construction out of Quonset Point in North Kingston, R.I., state energy and economic development officials say Rhode Island could be a Northeast hub for the industry.

On Nov. 9, the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will offer nearly 344,000 acres in federal waters off New Jersey in auction for wind energy developers. In the days before, BOEM is holding public meetings in New York and New Jersey for fishermen and other ocean users to gauge their concerns about wind farm development.

As Fishermen’s Energy prepares to reapply for its state waters project, the group is also looking to its long-term future prospects with BOEM leases. “We’re qualifying today,” Gallagher said Tuesday.

If the BPU were to accept a new application for the Atlantic City project, the earliest it could start would be 2017, “and that’s still optimistic,” Gallagher said. “It took them four years with the last one …That’s in the next governor’s term.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.