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PSC slates final comment, vote on Bluewater

State officials outlined the final steps needed to approve the Bluewater Wind contract with Delmarva Power on Tuesday, as the federal government published long-awaited proposed rules for offshore wind farms. ...During the meeting, Bluewater Wind President Peter Mandelstam noted that the federal Minerals Management Service had just unveiled 450 pages of proposed rules governing offshore wind farms. None has been built off the U.S. coast, and none can be placed in federal waters until the rules are enacted. Federal waters begin three miles from shore.

U.S. agency publishes proposed rules for offshore wind farms

State officials outlined the final steps needed to approve the Bluewater Wind contract with Delmarva Power on Tuesday, as the federal government published long-awaited proposed rules for offshore wind farms.

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Arnetta McRae marveled at how, after an impasse of more than a year, Bluewater and Delmarva Power were able to come to an agreement on June 23 that should enable construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm off Rehoboth Beach.

"Extraordinary is not a strong enough word," said McRae, whose commission pushed the parties to negotiate last year.

Tuesday's meeting was the first time the PSC had the issue on its agenda since lawmakers took over the debate in December, with Delmarva resisting a contract for the purchase of much more electricity from the wind farm.

The commission approved a date of July 31 for a final vote by the PSC, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,the Office of Management and Budget and the General Assembly's Controller General's Office.

The PSC also set July 17 for an evening public hearing in Dover on the contract, along... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

U.S. agency publishes proposed rules for offshore wind farms

State officials outlined the final steps needed to approve the Bluewater Wind contract with Delmarva Power on Tuesday, as the federal government published long-awaited proposed rules for offshore wind farms.

Public Service Commission Chairwoman Arnetta McRae marveled at how, after an impasse of more than a year, Bluewater and Delmarva Power were able to come to an agreement on June 23 that should enable construction of a 200-megawatt wind farm off Rehoboth Beach.

"Extraordinary is not a strong enough word," said McRae, whose commission pushed the parties to negotiate last year.

Tuesday's meeting was the first time the PSC had the issue on its agenda since lawmakers took over the debate in December, with Delmarva resisting a contract for the purchase of much more electricity from the wind farm.

The commission approved a date of July 31 for a final vote by the PSC, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control,the Office of Management and Budget and the General Assembly's Controller General's Office.

The PSC also set July 17 for an evening public hearing in Dover on the contract, along with a deadline of July 25 for written public comments to be submitted to the PSC.

During the meeting, Bluewater Wind President Peter Mandelstam noted that the federal Minerals Management Service had just unveiled 450 pages of proposed rules governing offshore wind farms.

None has been built off the U.S. coast, and none can be placed in federal waters until the rules are enacted. Federal waters begin three miles from shore.

"That was the piece that we were waiting for and you were waiting for," Mandelstam said.

Bluewater officials said they will read the rules closely and reply with comments promptly, in hopes the rules can be enacted before the turnover in the White House in January.

The meeting Tuesday was primarily a day to spread thanks, as the parties expressed gratitude to each other, government staffers, hired analysts and, especially, the members of the public who pushed the issue to the forefront.

"All of us owe them a great debt of gratitude," Mandelstam said of the thousands of Delawareans who chimed in during the debate.

In celebrating the contract, Delmarva attorney Todd Goodman reiterated Delmarva's opposition to building a natural gas plant to back up the Bluewater project when the wind isn't blowing as hard.

PSC staff previously had recommended a gas plant for Sussex County as part of the effort to improve reliability in that part of the state.

On Tuesday, the PSC made it clear that the issue was again open to debate, and the question of building a gas plant will be included in the public comments. The agencies are expected to vote July 31 on the future direction of the gas plant proposal.

Also Tuesday, the PSC approved a temporary increase of 7 percent for natural gas customers of Chesapeake Utilities. The unusual midyear increase was necessary because natural gas is becoming increasingly expensive, said Bill Denman, an attorney representing Chesapeake.

Coming outside the winter heating season, the increase will affect only those customers who use natural gas for hot water, cooking and other nonheating uses, he said. But a second rate increase is expected before winter begins.


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

JUL 9 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/15881-psc-slates-final-comment-vote-on-bluewater
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