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Offshore wind project should stay in talking stage a while longer

... since any wind farm construction would be several years away anyway, there is no urgency to stop the clock on negotiations now. This also matters because a Delaware wind farm could be the first offshore in the nation. Although there are land installations across the country, other wind projects off Cape Cod and Long Island have been stymied by controversy, including over aesthetics, cost and habitat impacts.

Gov. Minner's declaration last week that her two executive-branch agencies will not reject Bluewater Wind's bid for an offshore turbine installation on Tuesday responds to the political winds as well. Residents up and down the state have made it clear they like the idea of a clean, renewable electrical power source. They're even willing to pay something extra on their monthly bills for the environment's sake.

Gov. Minner has charge of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Office of Management and Budget. The Public Service Commission has recommended against Bluewater as too expensive, which led to a revised offer. The comptroller general has yet to be heard from.

It's been a long negotiation process with distributor Delmarva Power since this spring, when Bluewater's project came out ahead of competing coal gasification and natural gas bids. Delmarva has resisted being locked into a 25-year contract with Bluewater, arguing it could tap into renewable energy from other onshore vendors at less cost to consumers.

Various analysts have pegged Bluewater wind power at widely different household rates. The specifics have not been... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Gov. Minner's declaration last week that her two executive-branch agencies will not reject Bluewater Wind's bid for an offshore turbine installation on Tuesday responds to the political winds as well. Residents up and down the state have made it clear they like the idea of a clean, renewable electrical power source. They're even willing to pay something extra on their monthly bills for the environment's sake.

Gov. Minner has charge of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and the Office of Management and Budget. The Public Service Commission has recommended against Bluewater as too expensive, which led to a revised offer. The comptroller general has yet to be heard from.

It's been a long negotiation process with distributor Delmarva Power since this spring, when Bluewater's project came out ahead of competing coal gasification and natural gas bids. Delmarva has resisted being locked into a 25-year contract with Bluewater, arguing it could tap into renewable energy from other onshore vendors at less cost to consumers.

Various analysts have pegged Bluewater wind power at widely different household rates. The specifics have not been transparent.

A coterie of state legislators has tried to knock down Bluewater too, even though the General Assembly itself started this convoluted search for a new in-state power source when deregulation led to a 59 percent jump in Delmarva electric rates.

However, the top 2008 gubernatorial candidates have all spoken in favor of continued talks between Delmarva and Bluewater. Democrats Lt. Gov. John Carney and Treasurer Jack Markell and possible Republican candidate Alan Levin all want to keep moving forward with the proposal on the table. Potential voters are alert.

We agree that following through on the established process is important for public legitimacy. And since any wind farm construction would be several years away anyway, there is no urgency to stop the clock on negotiations now.

This also matters because a Delaware wind farm could be the first offshore in the nation. Although there are land installations across the country, other wind projects off Cape Cod and Long Island have been stymied by controversy, including over aesthetics, cost and habitat impacts.

New Jersey is taking a different approach. It is offering tax-free bonds plus $19 million cash to get bidders for a small offshore wind plant, with potential expansion. It's an encouraging test-case scenario.

The federal government also is working on guidelines for offshore wind. Eventually there will be a first working site. But it likely will need more than a strictly bottom-line focus to get up and running. The long-term payoff of clean ocean wind merits some adjustments, as New Jersey is venturing.


Source: http://www.delawareonline.c...

NOV 18 2007
http://www.windaction.org/posts/11970-offshore-wind-project-should-stay-in-talking-stage-a-while-longer
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