Library from Delaware
The House Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to release House Concurrent Resolutions 38 & 40 to the full House for a vote. Last December Controller Russ Larson, who represents the General Assembly, lead the vote to table a decision on the proposed wind farm project that would sit 11.5 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. HCR 38, if passed by the full House, would direct Larson to approve the project on their behalf. HCR 40 would spread the $1.6 billion cost of the wind farm to all Delaware energy users
The Bluewater Wind offshore wind farm proposal exploits the Delaware Renewable Portfolio Standard Act intended to foster the use of renewable energy sources. ...To qualify as an electricity supplier, BWW has to offer a supply that meets customer needs all the time, not just to the extent the wind blows. The BWW proposal drafts Delmarva as its supply partner, reducing supplier competition. Further, Delmarva's SOS customers may lose the right to choose another supplier if the BWW take-or-pay wind and Delmarva backup power partnership proves expensive. They could be locked in for 25 years.
A physics argument broke out at Friday's hearing on the Bluewater Wind contract. When a wind farm powers up, which plants power down? Bluewater Wind officials said Friday that in the congested Delmarva Peninsula, it will be area fossil-fuel plants. Area residents will realize a direct environmental and health benefit, they said. But Delmarva Power officials said the benefits will be diluted throughout the 13-state PJM electrical grid, and would have its biggest impact on oil-burning plants, not generators that use the notoriously dirty-burning coal. ...Citing a PJM Interconnection official who spoke at the hearings, they contended environmental benefits of an offshore wind farm would be spread throughout the grid. It wouldn't be coal that would go first, but more-expensive fossil fuels such as oil, said company spokesman Bill Yingling.
A Senate committee chairman faced criticism Thursday for surprising Public Service Commission representatives with a grilling by a Washington lawyer over the Bluewater Wind contract. The Senate Energy and Transit Committee, led by Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, held a hearing Wednesday at Legislative Hall over a long-term contract for Delmarva Power to buy offshore wind power from Bluewater Wind. McDowell has generally been critical of the project. But instead of lawmakers asking most of the questions, McDowell's committee hired attorney Randall Speck, who asked detailed questions of PSC officials for more than 2 1/2 hours. McDowell was authorized by the Democratic leadership to spend up to $35,000 on legal fees.
The attorney, Randall Speck, was hired by the Senate Energy and Transit Committee, led by Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington, who has been holding hearings to examine whether there are lower-cost ways for the state to buy renewable power. Wednesday's hearing was the first to deal specifically with the Bluewater Wind contract, of which McDowell has generally been critical. Speck, whose résumé includes helping states with electrical deregulation and its after-effects, veered into familiar lines of questioning from critics of the offshore wind power contract.
New Jersey's largest power supplier is competing with Bluewater Wind and a group of commercial fishing companies for the right to build a wind farm off the coast of the Garden State. PSEG announced this week that its renewable generation division, and a partner company, Winergy Power Holdings, has bid to build a 96-turbine wind farm off the coast of Cape May and Atlantic counties. The company said it would be 16 miles offshore. ...The results of the bidding competition could have implications for the proposed wind farm off the Delaware coast. Bluewater proposed building a regional hub for offshore wind turbine construction in Delaware, but if a different company wins the New Jersey bidding, the hub may lose out on that business.
Many people have been asking why the Senate Energy and Transit Committee is holding hearings on the state's green energy options during the General Assembly's budget break. My simple answer is that, as elected officials, we owe it to our citizens to gather as much information as possible on this fast-evolving subject before locking our people into the largest state-mandated contract in Delaware's history. ...Senate leaders hope these hearings can address lingering concerns about the proposed power purchase agreement and how it would affect Delaware's future.
Fifty million dollars to $70 million per year for 25 years --- well over a billion dollars -- this is what is at stake in this critical issue for our customers, and unfortunately only our customers. Much has been said lately about the need to move toward renewable energy, such as solar and wind power, and how best to do so. Our obligation to our customers is clear, and over the past few years I have heard it repeatedly up and down the Peninsula: We need to increase our use of renewable energy and keep the rates low. ...
A House Democratic appeal for faster action on a proposed $1.6 billion offshore wind farm got little traction Thursday, with House Republicans terming any concrete action unlikely before springtime. "I think some of them are waiting until Harris McDowell has finished up his hearings" in March, said House Speaker Terry R. Spence, R-Stratford. Senate Energy & Transit Committee Chairman Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, began a series of hearings on Bluewater Wind LLC's proposed 150-turbine wind project east of Rehoboth Beach this month, with a report due in early April. ...Estimates say the project may initially add $13 to $14 per month to Delmarva's standard-offer customer bills, but could decline to break even with current rates after 2025 if natural gas prices increase significantly. Spreading the cost to other Delmarva or state electricity customers could lower rate impacts to $7 extra monthly in early years.
In the meantime, Bluewater Wind continues to make promises to Delaware Lt. Governor, John Carney, who met with company officials recently says, they have an idea for pumping 150-grand into Delaware Tech. "They want to set-up a regional training program here for wind turbine technicians here in Delaware. The commitment to build the regional hub here for installation of the wind farms as well as the training program to provide training for workers to operate and maintain the turbines once they are installed is contingent upon approval of the project."
A stalled plan for a $1.6 billion offshore wind farm drew more than 100 people to a Senate hearing in Dover on Thursday, with some branding the process a brazen effort to derail the venture and others dismissing wind turbines as a costly mistake. The comments came during the first of five public hearings on Bluewater Wind LLC's proposal that are scheduled through early March by Senate Energy and Transit Committee Chairman Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North. ...University of Delaware engineering professor Charles Boncelet said in contrast that offshore wind turbines would still require conventional fuel backup and would drive up consumer costs. A report issued last year estimated that the project could increase Delmarva Power's "standard offer" customer rates by $14 a month at first and more than $6 per month over the long term. Costs could be lower if spread to other Delmarva and Delaware customers.
A stalled plan for a $1.6 billion offshore wind farm drew more than 100 people to a Senate hearing in Dover on Thursday, with some branding the process a brazen effort to derail the venture and others dismissing wind turbines as a costly mistake. ...University of Delaware engineering professor Charles Boncelet said in contrast that offshore wind turbines would still require conventional fuel backup and would drive up consumer costs. A report issued last year estimated that the project could increase Delmarva Power's "standard offer" customer rates by $14 a month at first and more than $6 per month over the long term. Costs could be lower if spread to other Delmarva and Delaware customers. "Wind power does not help us reduce our dependence on foreign oil, does not reduce our need to build conventional power plants, does not reduce pollution and is more expensive than other choices," Boncelet said.
A controversial set of Senate hearings begins tonight in Dover probing whether other forms of green energy are cheaper than the Bluewater Wind project. But critics say the organizer, Sen. Harris McDowell III, D-Wilmington, is trying to change the subject after Bluewater was the only renewable energy provider to respond to a state request for proposals last year. McDowell's Senate Energy and Transit Committee will begin the first of five hearings on renewable energy options tonight at 6:30 in Legislative Hall. Representatives of environmental groups were invited and are expected to speak. ...Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, speaking during vacation in Florida, said he plans to send an assistant to tonight's hearing. He said when Bluewater dropped its price, he wondered whether "there was a lot of money that was stuck on that shouldn't have been stuck on to start with." "I don't think he's trying to slow it down," Venables said of McDowell. "We consider him more up on these energy issues than anyone else. He's considered one of the experts across the country."
The Senate Energy and Transit Committee will be holding a series of hearings aimed at answering questions that have gone unaddressed during the request-for-proposals process that led to the now-tabled contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power for an offshore wind farm. Five hearings are scheduled.
Bluewater Wind's parent company has pledged to make Delaware the hub of its mid-Atlantic offshore operations if the state approves a long-term wind electricity contract with Delmarva Power. ...Sen. Charles Copeland, R-West Farms, a skeptic of the wind contract, said it was a positive development for a state losing its manufacturing jobs, and a wise move for Bluewater. Copeland wondered whether Babcock would have decided to make Delaware its center of offshore operations anyway, without the pledge, "but it does solidify it some. ...It's always good during an election year when politicians actually do what the voter is requesting of them," Copeland said. But he said the announcement was short on specifics, and still doesn't make the project any more affordable for low-income Delaware ratepayers.
Bluewater Wind's parent company has pledged to make Delaware the hub of its Mid-Atlantic offshore operations if the state approves a long-term wind power contract with Delmarva Power. Lt. Gov. John Carney requested the promise from Babcock and Brown, an Australia-based global energy and investment company that acquired Bluewater last year. Carney announced today the company had agreed to the pledge.
A Senate committee is set to start hearings next month on whether Delaware can do better than the Bluewater Wind offshore wind power project. Bluewater supporters called the hearings a delay tactic. ...McDowell said the purpose of the meetings were "informational." "These hearings are going to be fair, above board and impartial," McDowell said. "We'll be calling on all parties interested in green energy, including Bluewater Wind, to discuss their ideas." ...Meanwhile, a University of Delaware professor has filed a complaint seeking to halt Delmarva's effort to seek land-based wind power resources. ...Firestone, assistant professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware, said Delmarva should have to wait until after the Bluewater matter is settled before seeking wind power resources for that time period. Firestone said Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge is seeking the on-shore resources as a way to attack the state-mandated process that led to the Bluewater contract.
For a variety of reasons, the proposed Bluewater wind farm is a bad idea and should be rejected. I propose an alternative that the state should consider. ... The proposed facility off the coast of Rehoboth Beach has some advantages. Being miles offshore, problems with bird and bat kills and noise should be minimized. The windmills will be mostly invisible from the beaches. The main problems are the Bluewater proposal will be very expensive and will supply relatively little power. ...Engineering experience in Europe indicates that wind farms average about 20 percent of their maximum capacity. The Bluewater proposal is for a 450- megawatt system, but Delmarva would be obligated to buy only 300 megawatts at a time. The average output would be about 60 to 90 megawatts -- only 5 percent to 7 percent of Delaware's current electrical load. Even this estimate likely overstates the wind farm's contribution. Not only do winds vary, they vary unpredictably. Even with the best hourly weather forecasts, prediction errors will be made. To counter these random variations and provide a constant voltage on the electrical grid, some extra power will be generated -- and wasted.
With a proposed contract for off-shore wind through BlueWater Wind tabled pending more state senate hearings, officials with Delmarva Power and Light (DPL) on Tuesday announced that they will take advantage of the time to explore other options for renewable energy - particularly, on-shore wind energy. DPL President Gary Stockbridge announced Jan. 22 that the company would begin "reaching out to developers" that day, "asking for a range of options for renewable energy" for a bid period ranging from five to 25 years - that outside date being the term for the proposed contract with BlueWater Wind. "To date, the only option that has been explored has been the off-shore proposal," Stockbridge said. He referenced a state staff report that indicated the off-shore option would come would a 45 to 55 percent cost premium when compared to on-shore wind-power options. "Having those options in hand is important before we decide what's best for our customers," he said. "It's our duty to provide the lowest costs for our customers."
Nearly a dozen environmental groups are suing the federal Department of Energy, accusing it of harming the environment, not doing its homework and not complying with federal laws. At issue is the designation of a high-transmission electricity corridor that has raised the ire of environmentalists and green-power supporters, including Lt. Gov. John Carney. Charging that the Department of Energy (DOE) neglected to analyze the environmental impact of the proposed corridor or consult with the appropriate agencies, the lawsuit says, "As a result of these failures, DOE's designation will increase greenhouse gas emissions, adversely impact endangered species and otherwise harm the environment." The department first designated the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Oct. 5, 2007, because it deemed the Northeast's energy transmission system to be congested.