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Wind farm supporters claim votes

A resolution approving a wind farm off the shore of Rehoboth Beach would pass if voted on by the Senate today, two Democratic and two Republican senators told The News Journal this week. With two months left in the session, the Senate is the last government hurdle for Bluewater Wind's 150-turbine energy project, but Democratic leaders have yet to schedule a vote on the resolution. ...Sen. Thurman Adams said he did not know if a pro-Bluewater majority had formed in the Senate or his caucus. But, he said, "that would be very important, to listen to what the majority of the caucus says." Adams said he is not currently in the Bluewater Wind camp, preferring to reserve judgment until he has more information on costs. "We're still looking at it and seeing what can get worked out, what is best for the consumers." .

Senators say Bluewater proposal could win approval today if hearing were allowed

Aresolution approving a wind farm off the shore of Rehoboth Beach would pass if voted on by the Senate today, two Democratic and two Republican senators told The News Journal this week.

With two months left in the session, the Senate is the last government hurdle for Bluewater Wind's 150-turbine energy project, but Democratic leaders have yet to schedule a vote on the resolution.

"It's a big issue for my district," said Sen. George Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, calling it a potent issue in an election year. He said he supports the measure, which endorses the $1.5 billion construction project, but would like to find ways to reduce cost and risks. "If it got to the floor, I think it would pass. I think it will."

The House passed the resolution 25-11 three weeks ago. If a majority of the state's 21 senators also vote in favor, Controller General Russ Larson would be authorized to approve a 25-year contract between Delmarva Power and Bluewater.

Sen. Thurman Adams, D-Bridgeville, the chamber's president pro tem and one of the most powerful orchestrators of legislative business, will decide if... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Senators say Bluewater proposal could win approval today if hearing were allowed

A resolution approving a wind farm off the shore of Rehoboth Beach would pass if voted on by the Senate today, two Democratic and two Republican senators told The News Journal this week.

With two months left in the session, the Senate is the last government hurdle for Bluewater Wind's 150-turbine energy project, but Democratic leaders have yet to schedule a vote on the resolution.

"It's a big issue for my district," said Sen. George Bunting Jr., D-Bethany Beach, calling it a potent issue in an election year. He said he supports the measure, which endorses the $1.5 billion construction project, but would like to find ways to reduce cost and risks. "If it got to the floor, I think it would pass. I think it will."

The House passed the resolution 25-11 three weeks ago. If a majority of the state's 21 senators also vote in favor, Controller General Russ Larson would be authorized to approve a 25-year contract between Delmarva Power and Bluewater.

Sen. Thurman Adams, D-Bridgeville, the chamber's president pro tem and one of the most powerful orchestrators of legislative business, will decide if the resolution receives a hearing.

Reached by telephone on Thursday, Adams said he did not know if a pro-Bluewater majority had formed in the Senate or his caucus. But, he said, "that would be very important, to listen to what the majority of the caucus says."

Adams said he is not currently in the Bluewater Wind camp, preferring to reserve judgment until he has more information on costs. "We're still looking at it and seeing what can get worked out, what is best for the consumers."

The Bluewater Wind project has huge consequences for Delaware. The offshore project would be the first of its kind in the United States and proponents argue it would bring renewable, clean energy and jobs to Delaware.

Opponents, including Delmarva Power, say that the project would increase costs and that Delmarva could easily reduce greenhouse emissions by purchasing onshore wind power from another state or region.

The project has reached a crescendo in the Senate after months of hearings.

Lawmakers ordered Delmarva in 2006 to review its energy needs and to seek new, in-state sources of electricity to stabilize rates and improve system reliability. That vote followed deregulation of the state's utility industry and a six-year freeze on rates, followed by a 59 percent rate hike.

In December, the Public Service Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control were poised to approve the contract. But Larson asked for conditions the other agencies wouldn't approve, effectively throwing the debate to the Legislature.

"We had a consensus, really, to put this in front of the General Assembly," said Rep. Robert Valihura, R-Talleyville, who supports the contract. "Although it doesn't look like that was what we did, that was how we structured it. We're asking these folks to put this right in our lap. And that's what we did."

Despite some vocal support in the Senate, many senators still have "serious questions," said Delmarva Regional Vice President Glenn Moore.

Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling said the company's studies have shown ratepayers could get onshore wind power for much less.

"We do have broad support for our position, and we also have customers on our side."

Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said that in December, when lawmakers put the up-or-down vote on hold, the company's job was to find each senator's concerns and address them.

"We're feeling very positive about the feedback we're getting from the senators," Lanard said.

Sen. Steve Amick, R-Glasgow, said he is undecided, but agreed that the matter would likely pass the Senate, perhaps with amendments, if put to a vote today.

"What I'm experiencing is a fairly substantial plurality of constituent support" statewide, he said. "The Senate usually follows the constituent support."

The bill deserves a vote, Amick said.

Killing it in committee with no vote is "inherently, significantly undemocratic," he said. "Not only is there no vote taken, there's no hearing. There's no opportunity for the public to be heard."

Sen. Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, the Democratic majority whip, said senators are seeking a compromise. "I think there are hopes that we will come to some resolution of the matter that could satisfy a larger number of people than the current resolution does."

It would be preferable to find a contract Delmarva could sign, since no one wants the utility to file a lawsuit, she said.

Sens. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, and Colin Bonini, R-Dover South, who both describe themselves as Bluewater backers, said they believe the support is there to pass the resolution on the Senate floor.

Lt. Gov. John Carney, who said he has been working to get the wind farm passed, said the votes in the full Senate are there. "If I had to predict, I would say absolutely."

Treasurer Jack Markell, who is running against Carney for the Democratic nomination for governor, said he was unaware of the Senate's leanings.

"I thought for some time if they can get it to the floor, they've got the votes," he said. "I think this is one of those cases where the people have been speaking loudly, and I join a large majority of Delawareans who look forward to seeing the Senate take this up on the floor."

Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, a critic of the proposed Bluewater contract, indicated the issue was still in play for Senate leaders. "I would support the project if they can show me there's a reasonable cost to it."

Sen. Harris McDowell III, D-Wilmington, whose Senate Energy and Transit Committee last week issued a report highly critical of the project, declined to quantify the Senate support.

"Everyone's got a different count," said McDowell, a leading Bluewater opponent. "It's unethical to talk about what goes on in caucus."


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

MAY 2 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/14754-wind-farm-supporters-claim-votes
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