USA and Delaware
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment says Abound Solar is responsible for thousands of "unsellable" solar panels containing cadmium in warehouses. Barrels of toxic liquid also were found.
Like most big, bold ideas, the Atlantic Wind Connection is risky, and this week's Bluewater announcement can hardly be a good portent. AWC - which is a transmission line, not a power-generation project - won't go forward without an offshore wind boom along the Atlantic Coast.
New Jersey-based NRG Energy, however, said in a statement Monday that the outlook for offshore wind has changed dramatically over the last two years. The company cited two decisions by Congress that could significantly affect financing for any offshore wind project. Not one has yet been built in the United States.
Advocates for such renewable, carbon-free sources of electricity are in full defense mode, as recession-battered consumers blanch at the modest added costs required to shift to cleaner power and resurgent Republicans rail against government subsidies or carbon-control programs that might add costs for businesses and "kill jobs."
They are seen as the state-backed boost that solar and wind energy need to compete with power generated from fossil fuels in the coming decade.
Trouble is, they may be the next target for Delaware tea party activists, who see them as wasteful government intervention into the free market system that just end up costing consumers more for electricity.
They're renewable energy credits, or RECs.
Earlier this month, Collin O'Mara, Delaware natural resources secretary, wrote a letter to EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin, citing a 1990 law requiring the EPA to delegate air quality reviews to state agencies if the projects are within 25 miles of the coast.
NRG-Bluewater Wind, which plans a wind farm off Rehoboth Beach, already has a lease for the location of its met tower. But because environmental permits are proving difficult to navigate, construction of the tower might have to wait until next year, the company's president said.
NRG Energy Inc. said its wind-power project off the coast of Delaware may take three times longer than planned to get approved after BP Plc's Gulf of Mexico oil spill spurred a reorganization of federal offshore regulation.
The power producer still plans to get a permit for its $1 billion farm, which already has a contract to sell its 200 megawatts of output to a utility.
Delmarva Power has granted NRG Bluewater Wind an extension of a crucial deadline, as the renewable-energy developer works through federal uncertainty that could delay construction of the wind farm planned off Rehoboth Beach.
Bluewater has planned to erect a meteorological tower at the site this autumn.
The government's action turns Delaware into the test case for new federal rules and regulations, said Tyler Tringas, wind energy analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The contract with Delmarva Power "puts them leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the projects," Tringas said.
"It makes sense for the MMS to say we're going to test this out with Bluewater," Tringas said. The ocean lease application is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Friday.
Detractors of offshore wind power have long pointed out that the wind doesn't always blow very hard, even over the high seas, which makes it a somewhat undependable way to keep the lights on.
But a team of University of Delaware researchers say they've quantified a way to make that less of a problem -- and reduce the need to develop costly backup power plants on land or dip into the expensive peak-period electricity market when winds are limp.
Now regional power grid operator PJM Interconnection is dialing back its projections of future energy use amid a sluggish economy, increases in energy efficiency and the new economics of energy in the age of carbon consciousness.
That has set off a domino reaction of delays in power companies' plans to build those lines, as PJM reassesses when the lines will be needed, if they're needed at all.
Bluewater Wind expects a controlling interest in the firm to be sold in the next few weeks, and sources familiar with the plan say the company is in serious negotiations to sell to NRG Energy Inc.
In selling a majority stake in the offshore wind farm company, Bluewater would get the immediate financial help it needs to keep its projects moving forward, and the backing of a large energy company that should ease the financing of billion-dollar wind farms.
With plans moving forward in New Jersey and Delaware - not to mention recent progress in Cape Wind's years-long fight in Massachusetts - it's far from certain that Deepwater and Rhode Island will succeed in their quest to be first.
And make no mistake, being first is important. For the developer, it means more than just bragging rights. It gives the company a leg up on its competitors as it tries to develop additional wind farms elsewhere.
For the state, it means much-needed economic development and valuable green-collar jobs.
The Department of the Interior has given Bluewater Wind approval to build a weather testing station off Rehoboth Beach.
Bluewater Wind announced Wednesday that it has approval to build two meteorological towers off Rehoboth Beach and New Jersey's coast.
That summer in Delaware, Bluewater Wind finalized its contract to build a wind farm of 70, 130-meter-tall turbines 13 miles off the coast of Delaware. After a 59 percent rate hike in state energy prices, state legislators passed House Bill 6. This consumer retail act mandated the creation of a new power plant within the state of Delaware. ...According to the [Bluewater] Web site, "There were no significant negative impacts found on fish, flora and fauna." Delaware Audubon Society Conservation Group is showcased in supporting the project, saying it's safe for birds. ...[Thomas Kunz] says there is evidence suggesting that the offshore wind turbines Bluewater proposed to build would attract bats, causing them to die.
Blue H's 328-foot-tall wind turbine is different from the offshore generators that have sparked opposition from U.S. coastal residents. Because it sits atop pontoons, this turbine can operate in water farther from shore, where winds are stronger and more reliable - and where it's not visible from land. ...Linowes said that those opposing onshore wind projects - which often are gigantic schemes spanning tens of thousands of acres - welcome proposals to place turbines out in the water.
She calls current onshore turbines "dinosaurs" and says she finds Blue H's idea appealing because it shows "that we should look to new technology rather than bigger land-based turbines," she said.
[O]ffshore wind power is all blue skies and clear sailing now that Delaware, Texas and Massachusetts have approved projects. New Jersey and Rhode Island are also evaluating offshore wind ventures, while utilities and developers in Georgia, Florida and California are researching technologies and site data.
This week focused on two reality checks: A still-evolving regulatory scheme adapted from federal offshore oil and gas drilling overlaps state environmental and economic controls, posing a coordination challenge. ...As important, electric transmission connections and capacity are imperative to move power to utilities inland, and balance supply and demand.
Visitors to Rehoboth Beach, Del., soon may be greeted by more than sand dunes, seagulls and beach umbrellas. If offshore wind advocates have their way, scores of 140-foot blades will be spinning in the ocean breeze nearly a dozen miles away, barely visible to the sunbathers.
Offshore wind has taken a back seat to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in the current energy debate.
Delaware's two big wind-power initiatives face an uncertain future as millions of dollars in federal subsidies are being held up in Congress. ...In the absence of an extension for the credit, Delmarva would likely have to wait out a delay in construction, or pay more for the power.
The Bluewater project's timeline is longer, making it less susceptible to the short-term political stalemate. But the uneven history of the credit underscores a risk to the Bluewater project, observers say. ...Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said it was "unimaginable" that Congress would stop funding the tax credit, and that Bluewater was prepared to move forward with the project even if Congress elects to fund the tax credit on a year-by-year basis.