Library filed under Energy Policy from Delaware
A new Delaware power plant burning natural gas is still worth pursuing, but it should be handled as part of Delmarva Power's long-term planning process for acquiring electricity, the Public Service Commission staff has recommended. The staff, whose counsel the PSC usually follows, also recommended giving final approval to the compromise between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva for a wind farm project off Rehoboth Beach. ...On Thursday, the four agencies are also scheduled to give some direction to the natural-gas plant proposal, which has been less popular politically. The PSC staff originally recommended the backup plant in large part because it would provide electricity when the wind isn't blowing as hard.
Representatives of four state agencies will reconvene Thursday, July 31, and have planned to cast their final vote on a contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power that could lead to the nation's first offshore wind farm. Representatives of the two companies say they are optimistic the state agencies' representatives will support their contract. ... Changes were made to the state's renewable energy portfolio requirements, giving Delmarva Power 350 percent credit for each renewable energy credit it purchases from Bluewater Wind.
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.
The average residential Delmarva Power customer could end up paying just 70 cents a month more over the next 25 years for Bluewater Wind's power than they would have paid for fossil-fuel generated electricity, a team of state consultants said Thursday. The projection is significantly lower than the $6.46 a month "wind power premium" the consultants projected in a December analysis of the previous proposed contract between Bluewater and Delmarva, which would have had Delmarva buy twice as much wind power. ...Under the new, smaller contract, Sheingold estimates the average monthly additional cost on a residential customer, averaged over 25 years, will be 70 cents. In the early years, those additional costs will be an estimated $1.79 a month over market, and over time, will turn into a savings as fossil fuels get more expensive.
Delaware lawmakers took an $800 million step toward a cleaner energy future last week, endorsing a 200-megawatt offshore wind farm likely to spin off more noise than light -- at least for now. The Bluewater Wind venture on average would power only one out of 15 light bulbs in Delaware's homes and small businesses when it begins operation in 2013. That 6.7 percent share of nonindustrial power sales would pose no threat to coal as king of overall electric supply in Delaware and would barely register on regional and national power grids dominated by coal and nuclear. ..."I don't think business decisions should be legislated like that. The wind farm is a good, positive thing, but they've rammed it down somebody's throat and they're making people pay for it," Blanchies said. "When the state is trying to promote something, they should provide grants and do other things to promote it, not take money away from the ratepayers."
Bluewater Wind has no power-purchase deal with Delmarva Power yet, but a Bluewater official urged supporters of an offshore wind farm to keep the faith. ...Both sides, as well as Senate Majority Leader Anthony DeLuca, have expressed optimism in recent days that a deal can be reached, even as the end of the Legislative session on June 30 draws near. ...The negotiators must craft a complex, unprecedented document. There are currently no wind farms off the coast of the United States, and as such, no contracts to buy power from one of those wind farms.
The financial troubles of Bluewater Wind's parent company will likely not have an impact on the project being debated in Delaware, observers said. But one analyst said the Bluewater project has other issues that make it far from a sure thing, even if they sign a contract with Delmarva Power. ...In Delaware, despite indications on Friday that Bluewater and Delmarva were close to an agreement, no announcement was made Monday. Senate Majority Leader Anthony DeLuca said last week the parties had until early this week to reach agreement, or the Senate would consider its next steps.
Reports coming out of Dover hold that the two sides in the great battle of the offshore wind farm are negotiating. Where they will lead, we don't know. ...The legislators passed a law directing Delmarva Power to find a reliable local source of electrical power and ended up with that, plus an almost religious battle over offshore wind power. Delmarva opposed this setup from the beginning. And never too far away is the spectre of a long legal fight that could delay action even longer. ...Listening to the radio advertisements put out by both sides is like going on a roller coaster ride. True believers on either side of the fight have no trouble finding the truth, but everyone left in the middle is dizzy and slightly sick to the stomach.
Bluewater Wind, Delmarva Power and municipal utilities are edging closer to a deal that could end a yearlong battle over building a $1.6 billion offshore wind farm. Senate Democrats are pushing for a compromise that could be reached within a matter of days, according to those close to the talks. But they temper such optimism with the fact that Delmarva has walked away from earlier talks. ...The utility says it's unfair to make its customers pay more for so much power from an expensive new technology.
It's been all quiet on the wind front in Delaware, as the state's budget woes dominate discussion in the Legislature. For now, debate by elected officials of a proposed offshore wind farm has been moved to the back burner in Dover. But offshore wind farm supporters continue to lobby lawmakers to approve the project, the fate of which has been in limbo since December, when representatives of four state agencies tabled a vote on a proposed contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power.
In a pre-emptive strike against a proposed Bluewater Wind contract, Delmarva Power has signed contracts with a land-based wind farm provider for up to 100 megawatts of power at any given time. Delmarva announced today it had signed the contract with Annapolis, Md.-based Synergics Wind Energy for up to 100 megawatts of energy and renewable energy credits from wind farms in western Maryland.
A legislative move to keep Delmarva Power from having its customers foot the bill for the Bluewater wind farm fight fizzled today, at least temporarily. House Concurrent Resolution 50, whose prime sponsor is Rep. John J. Kowalko, D-Newark South, recommends that the Public Service Commission deny any request by Delmarva to pass on the costs to ratepayers. But Kowalko's resolution encountered heavy weather in the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, whose chairman, Ocean View Republican Rep. Gerald W. Hocker, blasted it as "one of the most anti-business pieces of legislation I have seen."
Delmarva Power said Wednesday that it has selected six companies with which to negotiate contracts for 460 MW of power from onshore wind farms. Delmarva had 31 offers in response to a solicitation for alternatives to a power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind, an offshore wind developer. That PPA, tabled in December and still under debate, was the result of a state law that required Delmarva to contract for power produced in the state.
When the Sustainable Energy Utility was formed last year, lawmakers envisioned a small nonprofit that could help Delawareans insulate their homes, buy energy-efficient refrigerators or install solar panels. But the SEU's scope could grow dramatically, thanks to a regional effort to tax polluters. Its coffers could swell by $5 million to $12 million per year, thanks to so-called "carbon taxes." At a time when other agencies are cutting back, the SEU could become a big player in the state's environmental efforts, and influence the debate about whether Delaware needs more power plants or alternatives, such as offshore wind turbines.
A resolution approving a wind farm off the shore of Rehoboth Beach would pass if voted on by the Senate today, two Democratic and two Republican senators told The News Journal this week. With two months left in the session, the Senate is the last government hurdle for Bluewater Wind's 150-turbine energy project, but Democratic leaders have yet to schedule a vote on the resolution. ...Sen. Thurman Adams said he did not know if a pro-Bluewater majority had formed in the Senate or his caucus. But, he said, "that would be very important, to listen to what the majority of the caucus says." Adams said he is not currently in the Bluewater Wind camp, preferring to reserve judgment until he has more information on costs. "We're still looking at it and seeing what can get worked out, what is best for the consumers." .
It was a busy week in Dover for lobbying and discussing the Bluewater project. This week saw the formal release of the report endorsed last week by the Senate Energy and Transit Committee, in addition to the disclosure of the eight cancer clusters by the Department of Public Health. ... The formal, bound draft was a forceful argument against the Bluewater project ...Unlike the first draft, it implicitly, but does not explicitly, calls for the project's defeat. It suggests a task force to investigate an interstate offshore pilot project with Maryland, Virginia and New Jersey. ...It "has the potential" to eliminate more jobs than it creates, instead of the last draft's language that a net job loss "appears almost certain."
Bluewater Wind issued a blistering rebuttal to a draft Senate report that calls its offshore wind power contract too expensive and the fruits of a flawed process. Bluewater's rebuttal calls the Senate report an "advocacy piece" that should not receive the deference a "neutral party reporting fairly on the evidence would be afforded." It's time for the government to give Bluewater an answer, the rebuttal says. ...The report, which is advisory and does not require a full Senate vote, says the Public Service Commission and other state agencies did not properly carry out legislative instructions to look for new, in-state sources of generation.
A Senate panel approved a controversial report critical of the Bluewater Wind contract, and the state process that led to it. But the panel removed language urging the rejection of the contract, instead instructing policymakers merely to give "great weight" to the recommendations. This could give Bluewater some wiggle room to continue its efforts to convince senators of the merits of the 25-year contract with Delmarva Power. ...Also on Thursday, the federal Minerals Management Agency designated five states, including the area off Rehoboth Beach, as priority areas for testing offshore technology. That could allow Bluewater to proceed with testing the offshore winds, a step in its plans to construct the wind farm.
Lawmakers gave mixed views on a draft copy of the Senate Energy and Transit Committee's renewable energy hearings report, which has been leaked to some legislators and others. The report recommends Delaware not pursue an offshore wind farm and challenges the Public Service Commission proceedings that led to the proposal. ...Following the tabling of a proposed power purchase agreement between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power, the Senate Energy and Transit Committee - headed by Sen. Harris McDowell, D-Wilmington North - held lengthy hearings to address some of the concerns about the offshore wind farm, including the cost of the power it would generate.
A Senate panel has given its approval to a report critical of the Bluewater Wind project and the state process that led to a proposed 25-year contract with Delmarva Power. But the panel removed language urging the defeat of the contract, instead instructing policymakers to give great weight to the recommendations. The vote of the Senate Energy and Transit Committee was 4-2. ...The new draft of the report has not been released to the public. It is expected to be released Tuesday. Because the report is advisory only, it is not expected to be voted on by the full Senate.