Library from Delaware
As Delaware lawmakers debate the costs of offshore wind as an energy source, the University of Delaware is studying how to use onshore wind to power its Lewes campus. The university already has committed to spending $85,000 on the project and could receive $4 million if Congress approves requests from Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper. The senators included the request among millions of dollars in special projects they're seeking in next year's federal budget. ...The University of Delaware maintains its project is not connected to the current debate. There are only a few coastal areas in Delaware where such a project could work, and one is Lewes, Kempton said.
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."
A bipartisan group of legislators Thursday unveiled a move to try to keep Delmarva Power from having its customers foot the bill for the Bluewater wind farm fight. 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. "The campaign being waged by Delmarva Power and Bluewater and the expenses of that campaign must be borne by those entities. ...Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling declined to take a position on the bill.
Wind farm generation may be in our future. However, the proposal that is currently before Delmarva Power customers for offshore wind generation is fraught with many problems. If an offshore wind farm has to be built, it should be adjacent to a utility that has a greater customer base than Delmarva has, so the cost per customer would be less.
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.
The wind farm scandal is getting so serious that it's time for Gov. Minner to step in and do what Delaware leaders have always done: Appoint a task force. Make it a deconfusion task force. The governor should task a blue-ribbon panel of first-rate clarifiers to sort through the hyperbole, palaver, double talk, embellishments, dissembling and plain old silliness that have surrounded the debate as to whether the state should have a wind turbine farm in the ocean off Rehoboth Beach. In other words, a panel should find out what in the world is going on ...Lost in this confusion is a simple question: Is the Bluewater bid a good deal or a bad deal for Delaware? Pick one.
Senate Democratic caucus members discussed the document secretly last week and then called for revisions. But leaked copies circulated throughout the weekend as debate intensified over a stalled proposal that would make Delmarva Power sign a 25-year "must-take" electricity purchase contract with Bluewater Wind LLC. "After a year and a half of proceedings, many factual uncertainties remain and key issues have not been explored to the depth that is warranted when making a $5.6 billion, 25-year commitment," the report said. ...The draft report is based on a series of hearings in February and March to examine Bluewater's proposal, the PSC process and alternative energy options.
The House solidly approved a resolution Thursday demanding approval of a 150-turbine offshore wind park east of Rehoboth Beach. The 25-11 vote was the clearest legislative endorsement so far of the $1.5 billion construction project and came as project supporters lobbied to head off a damaging report that is soon to be released by a Senate committee. ..."I think to send a message forcing a for-profit company, when you're in a time of deregulation [to sign a contract] is completely the wrong thing to do," said Rep. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, who voted against the bill. He warned that some customers would abandon Delmarva, raising the costs of the wind farm for remaining residents.
The House solidly approved a resolution today demanding approval of a 150 turbine offshore wind park east of Rehoboth Beach, while project supporters worked to head off a separate, damaging committee analysis. The 25-11 vote vote sent the measure to an uncertain future in the Senate, where both Democratic and Republican leaders have had more reservations about the project's cost, fairness and effect on Delmarva Power. ...The Senate may decide to give guidance a different way, but the important thing is one of two houses has given guidance to the Controller General to support the contract with Bluewater." Others were less happy. "I think to send a message forcing a for-profit company, when you're in a time of deregulation [to sign a contract] is completely the wrong thing to do," said Rep. Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View, who voted against the measure. He warned that some customers would abandon Delmarva, raising the costs of the wind farm for remaining residents.
Delaware should kill a 25-year purchase proposal for offshore wind energy, according to a draft report prepared for a legislative committee reviewing the state's energy supply. ... The draft -- written by committee Chairman Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North -- says that Bluewater Wind's offshore energy venture in Delaware could be jump-started with public aid. However, if approved as is, the report could be the death knell for a state-mandated offshore wind contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power. "Probably the report will determine what will be done" on the wind vote in the Senate, said Senate President Pro Tem Thurman Adams Jr., D-Bridgeville.
Delmarva Power says it won't release the details of its proposed land-based wind power contracts until about June 1. That's about a month before the end of the legislative session. Some House Republicans expressed frustration at Delmarva, saying the electric company promised them cost estimates by next week so they can compare them to the proposed 25-year Bluewater Wind offshore contract. The lawmakers vowed to press on with a vote on the Bluewater matter, as soon as next week.
Bluewater officials showed off the company's million-dollar investment today, chartering a vessel that will head out to sea this week. The vessel will start a 75-day study of bird activity in the area 11.7 miles off Rehoboth Beach, where the company's wind farm would be built. The studies will help determine the possible impact of 150 turbines on avian life. ...Delmarva has contended it doesn't need the power from the wind farm, and that a combination of transmission and conservation can ensure the area's electricity future. The company says offshore wind technology would result in higher rates for its customers. Delmarva also says it can satisfy state renewable power purchase rules by buying less expensive onshore wind power
Delaware Electric Cooperative customers could soon be buying wind power. The cooperative, and its Virginia-based supplier, announced Tuesday they were joining Delmarva Power in its quest for land-based wind power. It's unclear how much wind power the cooperative, which serves 72,000 member-customers, would purchase. Unlike Delmarva, the cooperative is not required by state law to buy renewable power. ...Land-based wind power can be competitive on price with traditional fuels once a federal production tax credit is taken into account, said Brian Yerger, a Wilmington-based alternative-energy research analyst at Jesup & Lamont Securities. But Yerger added that it costs more to transmit that wind power from afar.
They ran tight on time, but the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, on Wednesday, March 12, approved a resolution that could get the ball rolling again for Bluewater Wind's stalled wind farm project. ...Another resolution regarding the wind farm also cleared the committee. House Concurrent Resolution 40, sponsored by Hocker, would have the cost of the project spread across all electricity rate users in the state. "Delmarva Power cannot support House Concurrent Resolution 38 because it unfairly singles out Delmarva Power customers only for both the benefits and the significant cost of this project, which we believe all of Delaware should support. "We do support House Concurrent Resolution 40 ..."
Legislation to force the state to approve a proposed offshore wind farm to generate electricity was sent to the full House late Wednesday, after a committee hearing dominated by supporters of a 150-turbine project east of Rehoboth Beach. But the Energy and Natural Resources Committee also approved a measure calling for another bill that would spread Bluewater Wind's electricity costs beyond Delmarva Power's customers to all state electricity customers, a provision many believe would kill Bluewater's project. Prospects for quick action on either measure, House Concurrent Resolution 38 or HCR 4, was unclear. A Senate committee has been holding its own hearings on costs and alternatives to Bluewater's project since February, with a report expected in April.
Whirling debate over a proposed offshore wind farm helped to chop up hopes Monday for broad agreement on Delaware's version of a multistate greenhouse gas control plan. Although rarely mentioned directly, the push for wind turbines off Delaware's coast plainly figured in disputes over how to invest an estimated $53 million to $209 million in proceeds by 2014 from the sale of power plant "allowances" for carbon dioxide emissions. Delaware agreed in 2005 to join the 10-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a program to cap and then reduce the amount of heat-trapping pollution released by large electricity generators across the Northeast.