Library from Delaware
Two lawmakers plan to introduce a resolution that could put the fate of a proposed $1.6 billion offshore wind farm in the hands of the Legislature. The resolution would order Controller General Russ Larson to join three other state agencies in directing Delmarva Power to sign a 25-year contract to buy wind power from Bluewater Wind. The resolution would include the condition that costs be spread among all Delmarva electricity delivery customers, including heavy industrial companies. The legislative session begins today, and with it begins a flurry of lobbying on the wind farm issue. ...Sen. Harris McDowell III, D-Wilmington, announced he intended to hold hearings on less expensive ways to buy renewable power.
Shooting the breeze could take on a whole new meaning for Delaware lawmakers when they convene Tuesday for this year’s legislative session. The fate of a proposal to build the nation’s first offshore wind farm off the Delaware coast could rest with the legislature, after representatives of four state agencies last month postponed a final decision on the project. “It’s going to be one of the most important decisions we make for the state of Delaware,” said House Speaker Terry Spence, R-New Castle.
It was a political killing without fingerprints, a whodunit that Delaware environmentalists and political observers spent the holiday season trying to unravel. Among the mysteries is whether the body in question, an offshore wind power contract, is truly dead. ...The proposal had momentum, with the valuable endorsement of the Public Service Commission staff and signs of support from the Minner administration. But amid opposition from lawmakers, the agencies voted to table the proposal, sending it into an uncertain future. It was, several agency heads said, a merciful fate, because a single "no" vote could have meant permanent defeat. Now, advocates of the offshore wind farm are trying to identify the skeptics to win them over.
Controller General Russ Larson's vote is supposed to represent the wishes of the legislators. The final vote to accept the offshore wind proposal was scheduled for 12/18/07. ...the initial recommendation of the PSC was misrepresented and the idea was put forth to spread the cost over all of the energy users in Delaware. That is not acceptable to those legislators who primarily represent Delaware Electric Co-Op customers and I agree with them. Part of my district uses the Co-Op but the majority are Delmarva customers. It would not be fair to impose what could be considered a tax on a company to help pay the costs of another company when the first company receives no benefit for the increased cost. With that proposal, some of the legislative support collapsed and Russ was left dangling in the wind on the day of the vote. He did the best thing he could have possibly done by asking to postpone the vote. Forcing a vote at that time with such uncertainty on the part of the legislature would have surely doomed the proposal.
Because wind-driven electrical generators would be located in the ocean, the corrosion effects will result in more down time and higher maintenance costs ...
Conectiv Energy is moving ahead with its plans to build a big natural gas-fired power plant in southeastern Pennsylvania. The 545-megawatt facility near Delta, Pa., will run on natural gas in the warmer months, and when homeowners need that gas to heat their homes in the winter, it will switch over to fuel oil. The plant will be able to provide enough electricity to power 545,000 homes. ...This is a time of building for Conectiv. It is also constructing a 100-megawatt power plant in Cumberland, N.J., and it is bidding for the right to build a natural gas-fired power plant to back up a proposed wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Those plans are on hold after legislative leaders blocked the wind farm plan last week
Four state agencies charged with evaluating the power purchase agreement (PPA) were expected to vote on the agreement Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power presented to the Public Service Commission (PSC) on Dec. 10. The PSC staff released a report Dec. 14 recommending the agencies accept the contract and citing the ways in which Bluewater's offer conformed to House Bill 6, the law requiring in-state power generation. Instead of a vote, Jennifer J. Davis of the Office of Management and Budget opened the hearing with a motion to table the proposal, which was accepted. Without consensus among the four agencies, a vote could have killed the project.
State lawmakers have blocked an offshore wind power contract, forcing a deadlock among four state agencies and relegating the project to an uncertain fate. The Public Service Commission and three other state agencies were expected to vote on the contract Tuesday, ending a yearlong process initiated after lawmakers ordered them to explore ways to stabilize energy prices. After ruling out alternatives, regulators earlier this year asked Bluewater Wind LLC and Delmarva Power to negotiate a contract. But the very lawmakers who orchestrated the negotiations shut them down, at least temporarily. House Speaker Terry Spence, R-Stratford, said he was concerned about the cost of the project, $1 billion to construct 150 turbines off the coast of Rehoboth Beach.
An off-shore wind farm proposal has been put on hold as four state agencies tabled the proposal in Dover this morning. Natural Resources secretary John Hughes said the agencies could not achieve consensus on the proposal. He said he hopes to schedule another vote at a later date. The stalemate means the wind farm proposal lost what could have been its best opportunity for passage. Public Service Commissions Chairwoman Arnetta McRae declined to comment or take questions after the decision.
With ever-increasing needs for electricity, Delaware is on the brink of making a critical decision about its energy future. Four state agencies will decide Tuesday whether that future includes wind power from 150 turbines off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. In making that choice, they'll have to make a lot of predictions. In one scenario, four state agencies would order Delmarva to lock into a 25-year contract with Bluewater Wind in the hopes of offsetting increases in fossil fuel costs, heavy taxes on carbon emissions and fierce competition for a limited supply of renewable resources. In the other scenario, the agencies turn down the contract, entrusting Delmarva to largely set its own course. Such a path could include a heavier dependence on transmitting power in from out of state, including a bet that less-expensive wind power would be available from onshore facilities. ...An independent consultant hired by the state, Barry Sheingold, said in a report released Thursday that an onshore wind contract would currently be 24 percent to 36 percent less expensive than offshore wind. But he also said developers will use up the windiest sites, resulting in higher costs, and the action will soon move offshore.
If the agencies spread the costs, it could force some of the state's largest employers to consider their own plans of action. If industrial customers embrace the wind farm, they would pay more but gain environmental bragging rights they could use in advertising. If they fight it, they could save money but risk appearing responsible for the project's demise . The recommendation comes a day after a state consultant gave a largely favorable report about the wind farm, estimating the above-market price to the average Delmarva residential customer to be $6.50 a month. That cost could be cut in half if all Delmarva ratepayers are included, and lower still if all Delaware electricity users - such as those in the Delaware Electric Cooperative - are included, the consultant wrote. The staff report noted that no one knows exactly how high fossil fuel costs will go, but the wind contract offers a stable price.
The cost of offshore wind power could be cut in half if all Delmarva Power customers were required to participate, a state consultant said in a report issued Thursday. The report, which was mostly favorable toward the offshore wind project, could give Bluewater Wind momentum going into Tuesday's decisive meeting in Dover. And it could give a basis for the Public Service Commission to spread out the costs. The PSC will join three other state agencies to decide whether to direct Delmarva to sign a 25-year deal with Bluewater in an effort to stabilize prices and curb emissions. ...Onshore wind farms offer prices 24 percent to 36 percent lower than Bluewater's project, he said. Delmarva contends the savings would be about 45 percent. But he included a pointed caveat: As onshore wind developers build, they will use up the good sites. Developers will eventually focus on less windy sites, resulting in higher costs. When that happens, there will be a move to build offshore, he said.
The Public Service Commission staff has recommended four state agencies approve a long-term contract for wind power between Delmarva Power and Bluewater Wind. The staff said such approval should be contingent upon spreading out the costs to all Delmarva ratepayers, including large businesses. The state should consider legislation to spread the cost to all ratepayers...
Bluewater Wind reduced its selling price of wind energy in a proposed contract with Delmarva Power that also includes a guarantee of millions more in revenue for the developer. On Monday, the Public Service Commission released the proposed 25-year power purchase contract between the two parties, with an arbitrator deciding disputed issues. Delmarva has not embraced the price outlined in the contract, setting the stage for a showdown next Tuesday in Dover. Four state agencies will consider the contract and decide whether to order Delmarva to sign it. ...One reason for the price drop is a new source of revenue for Bluewater. Delmarva Power would buy all the renewable energy credits generated by the project, according to the proposed contract, which could approach 1.4 million credits. That's a purchase of significantly more credits than the figure in the September term sheet, which was 175,000.
Bluewater Wind has reduced its proposed selling price of wind power by about 7 percent, but Delmarva Power is still refusing to agree to a 25-year power purchase agreement. Nevertheless, the Public Service Commission today released a proposed contract between the two parties. Four state agencies will decide on Dec. 18 whether to force Delmarva to sign it. The proposed contract pegs the price of wind power at 9.893 cents per kilowatt hour. That's down from 10.59 cents per kilowatt hour in the contract Bluewater submitted in September. ...In his cover letter to the contract, Hamermesh wrote: "While it is labeled an 'agreement,' and Bluewater has indicated that it is prepared to enter into that agreement, I wish to make clear there are important aspects of it which Delmarva opposes, and there is therefore no mutually acceptable PPA [power purchase agreement] at this point."
Bluewater Wind will have its last, best chance to make a positive impression on four state agencies Monday. That's when a proposed 25-year contract is expected to be released that would commit Delmarva Power to buy power from Bluewater's proposed 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. When the contract is released, all eyes will be on one number: Bluewater's proposed price of wind power. Four state agencies are scheduled to review the contract, and cast a yes-or-no vote on the project Dec. 18. ...University of Delaware Professor Ed Ratledge said he hopes "nothing" comes out of Monday's contract. "I frankly don't think Delmarva should sign any contract with them," said Ratledge, who is director of the Center for Applied Demography and Survey Research. "I wonder if the state actually has the authority to make them do that anyway. I think it's a bad deal for the citizens."
Delmarva Power recently discussed in the media an estimated figure of more than $20 billion in relation to the cost of a proposed offshore wind farm and backup power generation facility in Delaware (The News Journal Sunday Perspective, Nov. 18). ...Correctly stated, this figure represents the potential total cost of power supply for all Delmarva Power standard offer service in Delaware for 25 years -- rather than the total cost to customers for just the wind farm and a backup provider.
Republican Congressman Mike Castle spoke at Delaware Technical and Community College in Georgetown on Tuesday about the virtues of alternative energy sources, like solar panels, nuclear power and a current proposal for a wind farm to be built off Delaware's resort coast and the issue of global warming. Castle had said earlier this year that he was unsure about a proposed offshore wind farm for Delaware. On Tuesday, Castle said that he now thinks he is more sold on the idea. In May, the Delaware Public Service Commission -- along with three other state agencies -- ordered Delmarva Power into negotiations with Bluewater Wind LLC to generate additional power in Delaware. ...Castle said nuclear power is an option again, though there are still waste transportation and storage issues that need to be resolved.
Is offshore wind power terribly expensive or a great bargain? It depends on whom one asks. In the debate over offshore wind power, Delmarva Power, Bluewater Wind and their allies have used charts and graphs to make their point. They are often based upon studies that make very different assumptions. But as the parties head back into negotiations, Public Service Commissioners and staff hope that Delmarva Power and Bluewater Wind can agree on some common measurements.
Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power are headed back to the negotiating table after four state agencies made an aggressive push Tuesday to seal a deal for offshore wind power. The agencies unanimously agreed at a public meeting in Legislative Hall to set a Dec. 10 deadline for the utility to complete a contract with Bluewater to buy wind power for 25 years. The product of the negotiations will be sent to the four agencies, who are expected to cast a yes-or-no vote Dec. 18. ...PSC Commissioner Jeffrey Clark brought up the suggestion that the parties discuss a surcharge for all Delmarva customers to help defray the costs. He called the surcharge "non-bypassable" because all Delmarva customers would be subject to the fee, including those who buy power from other companies but have it delivered by Delmarva.