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Delaware energy: Bluewater faces competition for lease from secretive firm

They're seeking the right to build on some of the same spots in the ocean, although Occidental's project would be smaller, based on its request. Little is publicly known about Occidental. The company was one of five developers to file a bid in 2008 for state funding to build a wind farm off the coast of New Jersey. But it was one of two rejected for that funding by that state's Board of Public Utilities.

Mysterious N.J. operation seeking rights to same area off Delaware coast

A mystery competitor from New Jersey has emerged to challenge NRG Bluewater Wind's efforts to lease an ocean tract off the Delaware coast to build a wind farm.

Occidental Development & Equities LLC, of Bayonne, N.J., joined Bluewater late last month in filing a statement of interest with the federal government to lease an Atlantic Ocean tract off Delaware to use for a renewable-energy project. They're seeking the right to build on some of the same spots in the ocean, although Occidental's project would be smaller, based on its request.

Little is publicly known about Occidental. The company was one of five developers to file a bid in 2008 for state funding to build a wind farm off the coast of New Jersey. But it was one of two rejected for that funding by that state's Board of Public Utilities.

Principals in the company could not be reached Thursday to discuss their interest in or plans for the Delaware tract.

Bluewater President Peter Mandelstam said he wasn't sure whether Occidental's interest could delay his company's project. He said his team was gathering more information.

"I don't know anything... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Mysterious N.J. operation seeking rights to same area off Delaware coast

A mystery competitor from New Jersey has emerged to challenge NRG Bluewater Wind's efforts to lease an ocean tract off the Delaware coast to build a wind farm.

Occidental Development & Equities LLC, of Bayonne, N.J., joined Bluewater late last month in filing a statement of interest with the federal government to lease an Atlantic Ocean tract off Delaware to use for a renewable-energy project. They're seeking the right to build on some of the same spots in the ocean, although Occidental's project would be smaller, based on its request.

Little is publicly known about Occidental. The company was one of five developers to file a bid in 2008 for state funding to build a wind farm off the coast of New Jersey. But it was one of two rejected for that funding by that state's Board of Public Utilities.

Principals in the company could not be reached Thursday to discuss their interest in or plans for the Delaware tract.

Bluewater President Peter Mandelstam said he wasn't sure whether Occidental's interest could delay his company's project. He said his team was gathering more information.

"I don't know anything more than you know," Mandelstam said. "I know they bid New Jersey."

Bluewater has a contract with Delmarva Power to sell electricity from its proposed offshore wind farm on a tract about 11 miles off the Delaware coast. The company's contract with Delmarva envisions at least 79 wind turbines capable of meeting the needs of 55,000 homes. It also has agreements to provide smaller amounts of energy to Delaware's municipal electric utilities, the University of Maryland, the state of Maryland and Baltimore County, Md.

But before it can build, it must formally obtain a lease from the federal government, and obtain many other agency permits and approvals.
The Delaware offshore lease process marks the first time the federal government has used its new rules to site an offshore wind farm. Filings to build off Delaware were due to the federal government on June 25.
Occidental redacts info

On Thursday, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement announced the names of the interested parties, but did not release the filings themselves.

An agency official said the files would be released after confidential business information is redacted from public view.

The cover sheet for the funding application in New Jersey listed Occidental's contact as Miguel I. Payano, but he could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The New Jersey state Treasury Department reported on Thursday that it did not have an LLC by Occidental's name on file.

An Occidental website provided little information about the company or its work.

The Record of Bergen County, N.J., reported that the other bidders for the New Jersey funding provided details about their projects, but Occidental "redacted almost all of its information for public review from its small application."

No matter how serious Occidental's intentions are, its application presents the possibility of yet another delay to Bluewater's hopes of being up and running by 2014.

Now that there's more than one interested party, the federal agency could open a more complicated competitive bidding process. Its regulations would have allowed for a simpler lease process had NRG Bluewater been the only party stating an interest in the ocean tract.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management reported on Thursday it had begun a review of the parties' submissions to assess whether their files are complete, to gauge their levels of interest, and to evaluate whether they have the "legal, technical and financial qualifications" to hold an offshore renewable-energy lease.

In its filing, Bluewater expressed interest in acquiring leases on portions of 20 blocks of the Outer Continental Shelf, as well as 11 full blocks.

Occidental, meanwhile, showed interest in just six ocean blocks. Five of the six blocks overlap those sought by Bluewater.

Bluewater has an edge

Occidental could have a hard time besting Bluewater if there ends up being a contest for the lease.

The bureau's auction rules take into account whether a developer has a power purchase contract with a Delaware utility and whether it has a lease to construct a tower to study Delaware's offshore weather. Bluewater has both, although its effort to build the meteorological tower faces a delay while the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency seeks more information about Bluewater's application.

Bluewater's presumed advantage caused other established offshore wind developers to decide against showing interest.

Daniel Cohen, president of Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey, said his company remains focused on its own New Jersey offshore project, which won funding from the Garden State.

"We thought it was premature, without having a clear off-taker for more potential electricity," to try building off Delaware, Cohen said.

Delay 'disturbing'

Matt DaPrato, a wind analyst with IHS Emerging Energy Research, said most of the developers of offshore wind projects on the East Coast have been forthcoming with their plans. There's no advantage to anonymity, he said.
DaPrato said he's not surprised the other established developers left Bluewater alone in Delaware.

Developers are working to get their projects off the ground, at a time when the federal government seems distracted with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, he said. That has limited the developers' ambitions, he said.
"It seems that everyone's trying to concentrate on their core projects right now," he said.

Rep. John Kowalko, one of Bluewater's strongest backers in the General Assembly, said he'd be surprised if someone else won the bidding.
The prospect that the project could be delayed further is "just very disturbing to me," Kowalko said.


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

JUL 9 2010
http://www.windaction.org/posts/27140-delaware-energy-bluewater-faces-competition-for-lease-from-secretive-firm
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