"We don't know if there would be any problems. It's really hard to say. Let's do a study to find out," says Butcher.
In addition, Butcher does not want to see any wind turbines built near Hudson Canyon or some of the other places where seabirds congregate. Gulls, terns, puffins, and other birds often fly offshore to eat the small fish that are chased to the surface by predator fish, such as tuna.
"Kicking them out of their habitat is what I am most worried about," Butcher says.
One company that could be involved in the project's wind generation, Fishermen's Energy in Cape May, N.J., has recently started some environmental monitoring for a pilot wind project supplying 20 megawatts 2.8 miles off Atlantic City. That would supply about 8,000 homes, depending on the season.
Last week, a barge took core samples to determine the characteristics of the bottom for anchoring wind turbines in the sea, which is about 40 feet deep in that location. "We're also doing some avian and marine mammal monitoring," says Rhonda Jackson, a spokesman for Fishermen's Energy.
"In preconstruction monitoring, we're looking at whales, dolphins, turtles," she says. Endangered right whales also swim up and down the coast during certain times of the year.
"This project will have to address the marine mammals in the many stages of environmental permitting," says Sean Dixon, coastal policy attorney for Clean Ocean Action, an environmental group in Highlands, N.J. "It is a project with a lot of potential, but just like anything else, it has to be done in an environmental manner. The battle over where, when, and how will be arduous."
Mr. Mitchell of Trans-Elect agrees that studies need to be done. "There will be studies on top of studies," he says.