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Bluewater launches aggressive campaign; Maryland bid shows eagerness to expand

NRG Bluewater Wind is aggressively looking to expand its reach. Analysts say the company's bid last week to construct turbines off the Maryland coast is indicative of its thirst to build anywhere it can. NRG, which has a contract to supply Delmarva Power customers with electricity from a wind farm 13.2 miles off the Delaware coast, bid on 33 ocean tracts off Maryland under the name Bluewater Wind Maryland LLC.

NRG Bluewater Wind is aggressively looking to expand its reach.

Analysts say the company's bid last week to construct turbines off the Maryland coast is indicative of its thirst to build anywhere it can.

NRG, which has a contract to supply Delmarva Power customers with electricity from a wind farm 13.2 miles off the Delaware coast, bid on 33 ocean tracts off Maryland under the name Bluewater Wind Maryland LLC.

"Bluewater has made it very clear they want to be a major player," said Matt DaPrato, an analyst with the Massachusetts-based IHS Emerging Energy Research.

Bluewater has expressed interest in many of the prominent proposed offshore wind projects, DaPrato said. In addition to Delaware, Bluewater plans to build a wind farm off the coast of New Jersey and has expressed interest in building turbines off Massachusetts, New York City, Great Lakes states and elsewhere.

NRG spokesman Dave Gaier said the company "sees tremendous potential" for offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic, and "we intend to participate where we can make a difference."

NRG, after years of pollution battles with regulators at the Indian River Power Plant in Delaware, has turned its attention in recent years... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

NRG Bluewater Wind is aggressively looking to expand its reach.

Analysts say the company's bid last week to construct turbines off the Maryland coast is indicative of its thirst to build anywhere it can.

NRG, which has a contract to supply Delmarva Power customers with electricity from a wind farm 13.2 miles off the Delaware coast, bid on 33 ocean tracts off Maryland under the name Bluewater Wind Maryland LLC.

"Bluewater has made it very clear they want to be a major player," said Matt DaPrato, an analyst with the Massachusetts-based IHS Emerging Energy Research.

Bluewater has expressed interest in many of the prominent proposed offshore wind projects, DaPrato said. In addition to Delaware, Bluewater plans to build a wind farm off the coast of New Jersey and has expressed interest in building turbines off Massachusetts, New York City, Great Lakes states and elsewhere.

NRG spokesman Dave Gaier said the company "sees tremendous potential" for offshore wind in the mid-Atlantic, and "we intend to participate where we can make a difference."

NRG, after years of pollution battles with regulators at the Indian River Power Plant in Delaware, has turned its attention in recent years to renewable energy. The company has several large solar installation projects in California and New Mexico, and has invested in an electric car-charging infrastructure in Houston.

But offshore wind is NRG's most prominent, and potentially most expensive, renewable-energy project. NRG bought Bluewater in 2009 after Bluewater's highly leveraged Australian parent company collapsed.

NRG's investment makes Bluewater a more credible applicant for the capital-intensive projects, DaPrato said. "They have substantial backing from people who know the conventional power industry, which is very helpful for them going forward," DaPrato said.

In Maryland, Bluewater was joined in the bidding by existing wind developers like Fishermen's Energy of New Jersey, developers of a small pilot project off Atlantic City.

Another bidder is Energy Management Inc., developer of the Cape Wind project in Massachusetts.

Spanish company Iberdrola Renewables, the world's largest wind farm developer, also bid on tracts.

The other four companies were more obscure names: Seawind Renewable Energy Corp., Orisol Energy U.S., Maryland Offshore LLC and RES America Developments Inc.

Jim Lanard, president of the Offshore Wind Development Coalition, called it a "robust response" that "indicates the quick evolution of the offshore wind industry in the U.S."

"We are rapidly approaching the critical mass needed for supply chain manufacturers to commit to establishing facilities up and down the East Coast so that they will be able to meet the demand for their products, once proposed offshore wind farms receive their approvals from the federal and state governments," Lanard said.

If Bluewater wins leases in Maryland, that could mean suppliers that crop up in Delaware would have more sales opportunities nearby, DaPrato said. But he said that states see offshore wind as an economic development opportunity, and Maryland expects to win jobs within its own borders.

DaPrato said it's likely the large number of bidders represent placeholders, so companies can take the time to see if an offshore wind investment is right for them.

Maryland represented the second such request for interest from the federal government. On Earth Day 2010, the government sought bidders to build off Delaware. Bluewater was the only major bidder; Occidental Development & Equities also bid, but the government is still weighing whether its bid is credible.

Brian Yerger, president of the Wilmington alternative-energy consulting firm AERCA Advisors, said he wasn't surprised at Bluewater's action, noting the company is eyeing the entire Eastern Seaboard.

"Obviously, NRG didn't buy Bluewater to just try and develop the potential project off Rehoboth," Yerger said.

The bids come as Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's office distanced itself from a story in Thursday's Baltimore Sun that he would introduce legislation that would require utilities in that state -- and by extension, Maryland ratepayers -- to buy offshore wind power.

In an interview Monday, O'Malley's spokesman, Shaun Adamec, said O'Malley would introduce some kind of offshore wind legislation, but "we're still working out what it will look like" and "it won't necessarily be requiring them to purchase" offshore wind power.

The governor was likely to seek a rule that when utilities purchase power from offshore wind farms, "they're long-term contracts, in order to make these projects attractive to investors," Adamec said.


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

JAN 18 2011
http://www.windaction.org/posts/29725-bluewater-launches-aggressive-campaign-maryland-bid-shows-eagerness-to-expand
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