Library filed under Energy Policy 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.
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.
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.
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 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."
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.
Four state agencies will decide today whether to give a proposed offshore wind farm a second chance. Members of the public are expected to pack the hearing at Legislative Hall, which is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. The agencies will take public testimony before deliberating about whether to send Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power back into negotiations for a 25-year agreement to buy wind power. ...Bluewater has faced an uphill battle since late last month, when the Public Service Commission staff recommended ending negotiations. The deal would be too risky and expensive for ratepayers, the staff wrote.
... since any wind farm construction would be several years away anyway, there is no urgency to stop the clock on negotiations now. This also matters because a Delaware wind farm could be the first offshore in the nation. Although there are land installations across the country, other wind projects off Cape Cod and Long Island have been stymied by controversy, including over aesthetics, cost and habitat impacts.
Carney called the federal plan “ill-conceived and premature,” saying, “It runs counter to forward-thinking energy policies to promote sustainable ‘green’ energy alternatives that are right for Delaware and the nation.” Federal energy officials seek to establish high-energy corridors in parts of the country that suffer significant constraint on transmission or congestion problems. They say the corridors will keep reliable supplies of electricity flowing.
The Public Service Commission has developed serious reservations about Bluewater Wind's plans to build an offshore wind farm and windmills to help provide the state with affordable electric power. Bluewater has been hailed by many as a source of affordable, clean, renewable energy. But a PSC report on Oct. 30 cast doubts on those plans. ...The wind farm with a natural gas backup plant emerged as the winners of that effort. But the PSC report now says that the plans by Bluewater are not in the public interest because of the dramatic increase in price for the public.
In a move with direct significance for the Mid-Atlantic, the U.S. Interior Department today released its final proposal for regulating offshore wind turbines and other "alternative" energy projects in federally controlled waters. Although work on detailed regulations will continue into next year, the agency plans to take applications during the next 60 days for permits to conduct offshore research on wind or other unconventional energy around the nation's Outer Continental Shelf. ...Several large national environmental groups have supported the offshore proposals for wind. But the American Bird Conservancy, American Littoral Society and others took opposing stands, urging the Interior Department to limit the projects and study threats to birds and fish in greater detail.
Delmarva Power is taking its case against a proposed offshore wind farm to community groups, saying the plan is too risky and would be too costly to utility customers. Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge spoke to about 40 citizens at the public library in Bear on Monday night. ...Stockbridge said he was concerned Delmarva customers would be stuck with an expensive contract for offshore wind power, while customers with competing companies wouldn't have to pay those costs. He suggested green power providers compete to supply Delmarva, rather than having a 25-year contract forced on his customers. He urged people to contact the government and make their feelings known.
A process has been unfolding to find a new state energy source for more than a year. In a few months, the end of that process will mean that an offshore wind farm will have won the state government's approval or it didn't. ...The process, created by the General Assembly, is too far along to tinker with now. Let it continue without interference or the appearance of meddling.
Bluewater Wind will build 150 energy-producing turbines off the coast of Rehoboth Beach by about 2014 at an estimated cost of $1.6 billion, according to a statement released this afternoon by Bluewater. ...Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard put it more bluntly: "Our biggest concern is that Delmarva has a secret black box they may use to try to blow up the process." Delmarva would pay 10.59 cents per kilowatt hour for the wind energy, McGonigle wrote. That's 1.05 cents higher than Bluewater's original bid.
Friday is the deadline for Delmarva Power to release details of agreements with three power companies to provide stable-priced electricity for the next 25 years. Homeowners, environmentalists and state officials are awaiting data to see if the wind farm will offer a competitive price, as well as whether the wind farm will be big enough to make a sizable contribution to the state's electricity supply. ...