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State officials on Tuesday declined to pull the plug on negotiations to determine whether the nation's first offshore wind farm should be built off the coast of Delaware. Officials agreed with Public Service Commission staffers that Delmarva Power and Bluewater Wind LLC should be given until Dec. 10 to come up with a power purchase agreement, which state officials would consider at a Dec. 18 meeting. ...Bluewater attorney Tom McGonigle said an independent consultant has estimated the rate increase for Delmarva residential customers under the current proposal at $6.76 a month over the life of the proposed 25-year power supply contract. Delmarva Power contends the increase would be at least $5 higher per month. In response to Delmarva's argument that residential customers should not have to bear the entire financial burden for a wind farm, officials suggested that the PSC staff consider spreading the cost among all Delmarva customers.
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.
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner is cautioning state agencies not to hastily reject Bluewater Wind's $1.6 billion wind power project off the shore of Rehoboth Beach. The two agencies she oversees will not reject the project when they next meet on Tuesday, Minner said Wednesday. "We won't be voting no on this project." ...The Division of the Public Advocate also weighed in recently, filing a report that said it was time to end the process. Bluewater's current proposal exposes Delmarva's residential and small business customers to too much risk over a long period, the division's report argued.
Delmarva Power President Gary Stockbridge called on Delaware state agencies Tuesday to allow the utility company to halt contract talks with Bluewater Wind and open negotiations for future power supplies with renewable energy firms outside state boundaries. ...Outside studies conducted for Delmarva Power estimate that $17 to $22 would be added to every residential and small business customer's electric bill every month to finance the project. Larger commercial and industrial clients, which represent most -- about 70 percent -- of the utility's delivery, would not be affected. The rates only apply to Delaware customers.
With its predictable breezes, open water and connection to the regional power grid, the waters surrounding this small Chesapeake Bay island may be uniquely suited to hosting a small wind farm, a James Madison University professor feels. Jonathan Miles, a professor of engineering and energy technologies, on Friday met for the first time publicly with town leadership to discuss the opportunities of placing small wind turbines on the island or larger turbines just offshore. ...While some embrace wind energy as an environmentally friendly concept, others fear its aesthetic impact.
A new report commissioned by Delmarva Power says average electricity customers will pay between $21 and $34 more per month if a proposed offshore wind farm is built. The report, done by PACE Global Energy Services, a Virginia-based consulting firm, says the project would be financially unstable because the developer, Bluewater Wind, has opted to absorb increases in commodity costs instead of passing them on to customers. "Given the magnitude of the impact to our customers, we felt it was important to bring in a fresh perspective," Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge said in an interview Friday, when the report was released. He said the report was unbiased and would hold up to scrutiny.
Delmarva Power officials, saying a proposed 450-megawatt wind farm could cost utility customers more than $20 a month, forwarded an independent analysis of the project to the Delaware Public Service Commission. ...Delmarva Power commissioned Pace Global to conduct the study because, "when you're asking to spend more than $20 billion of our customers' money on one project, we believe it merits a second opinion," said utility President Gary Stockbridge.
Although Bluewater Wind has revised its offshore wind farm bid to keep the project alive, its fate is in the hands of four state agencies that will soon decide whether to consider it. ...Delmarva's President Gary Stockbridge said Bluewater is welcome to make a proposal for offering renewable electricity as part of Delmarva's long-term planning process. "That's the only way we can be sure, at this point, whether their offer is what's best for our customers," Stockbridge said.
This chart estimates January hourly capacity factor of the Bluewater offshore wind project proposed for Delaware. The chart suggests wide swings in wind generation throughout the month. Chart from http://www.delmarva.com/_res/documents/PaceReport%20.pdf
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 hopes of keeping a proposed offshore wind farm alive, Bluewater Wind submitted plans on Tuesday to rein in costs, but claims Delmarva Power unfairly drove up the price of wind power in negotiations. On Tuesday, Bluewater dropped plans to raise the price of its power as the price of steel and other commodities increases. In making the concession, Bluewater hoped to win over state regulators who have said the company's proposed power purchase agreement with Delmarva would be too risky and expensive. ...Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling said Delmarva maintains the wind farm is a "bad deal" for its customers. Buying out-of-state renewable resources and credits would be significantly less expensive, he said. Yingling said Delmarva officials were disappointed Bluewater didn't decrease its proposed base price of wind power.
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.
An offshore wind farm developer said today it would not raise the price of its power if the prices of steel and other commodities go up. In making the concession, Bluewater Wind hoped to win over state regulators who have said the company's offer to sign a long-term power purchase agreement with Delmarva Power would be too expensive.
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.
As supporters came to the defense of an embattled offshore wind farm proposal, the developer announced it would submit a revised plan to rein in costs. The move comes in response to a state report that calls the plan too risky for ratepayers. But time for maneuvering is running out. ...Being at the forefront of this nation's effort to build offshore wind farms had some appeal, said Bruce Burcat, the PSC's executive director. But upon seeing Bluewater Wind's latest proposal as negotiated with Delmarva Power, "we were very surprised, shocked, discouraged, disappointed I guess is a better word, to see that the proposal had changed dramatically," Burcat said. The plan included too much cost variability, and the PSC staff couldn't assign a number to how high costs could go, Burcat said. "That's a very scary thought," he added. "There's just too much price uncertainty here for us to make a recommendation that these talks should go forward any longer. Our interest is in protecting the public interest."
This week's Public Service Commission staff report on future electric power supply has raised renewed debate - not only among energy suppliers but also among academics, politicians, advocacy groups and citizens. ...Bluewater was disappointed but hopeful and Delmarva Power, hesitant from the beginning to negotiate with Bluewater, commended the report, saying, "So far, our analysis also confirms that the price risks associated with Bluewater Wind's proposal are too high. We support the conclusion that the Bluewater Wind proposal is not in the best financial interests of our customers." ...Sen. Charlie Copeland, R-Wilmington, said, "The report confirms the concern I've had all along that the cost to the consumer is ill-defined. While we all want the wind farm to go ahead, we shouldn't make 25 percent of consumers handle the cost when we don't even know what it is."
Bluewater Wind is willing to take on some of the financial risk of building a wind-power farm off the Delaware coast. ...The Bluewater spokesman went on to suggest that it could be time to negotiate a deal between the Public Service Comission and Bluewater, rather than continue to deal with Delmarva. Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling disagreed with that assessement. “Everything we have done has been in the interest of our ratepayers,” he said.
The topsy-turvy world of Delaware energy politics has taken another turn as the staff of the Public Service Commission pronounced an offshore wind proposal is too expensive. The PSC staff said Bluewater Wind's proposal to pass along the costs of commodities, such as steel for the turbine towers, was potentially too expensive for electricity customers. ...But the solution to that problem is to put a cap on costs. If the costs go above the cap, let Bluewater Wind absorb costs or -- if it's wildly expensive -- end the project.
A plan to make Delaware the site of the country's first offshore wind-powered electric generator could get scrapped. Delaware's Public Service Commission and the independent consultant it hired released reports Monday saying the project would be too expensive for customers and therefore recommended against a contract between wind energy company Bluewater Wind and electric utility Delmarva Power. It also recommended against a plan for a backup natural gas power plant. ..."Instead of ‘sharpening its pencil,' Bluewater has used the negotiations to dramatically escalate the potential cost of the project to Delmarva Power and its standard offer service ratepayers," the PSC report said. The PSC said that Bluewater's contract terms also shift all risk associated with the new price escalators and that a one-year delay further increases the ratepayers' risk for higher prices.
A proposed offshore wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach was dealt a serious setback Monday, after the Public Service Commission staff released a report criticizing the plans as too financially risky to ratepayers. The project, in its current form, could add as much as $55 to Delmarva ratepayers' monthly bills, the 91-page staff report said. The Delaware PSC staff lauded Bluewater for offering to add a significant amount of pollution-free electricity to the grid, but contended that the 150-turbine proposal is far different from the 200-turbine version Bluewater submitted last year. ...the staff calculated the new proposal results in a premium of $11.71 per megawatt hour. That's a conservative estimate, the staff suggested. If commodities continue to increase in price as they have in recent years, coupled with a delay in construction, that could push the additional price per megawatt hour above $55, the report said.