Library filed under Energy Policy from New York
A state utility regulator on Wednesday questioned whether a $2 billion investment in wind power by Iberdrola SA, the company that wants to buy Energy East Corp., is a good idea. "I view the wind proposal in almost a neutral fashion," said Cheryl Buley, one of five members of the state Public Service Commission, which began considering whether to allow Spanish utility Iberdrola to buy the parent of Rochester Gas and Electric Corp. and New York State Electric and Gas Corp. Buley said that despite an apparent fascination by elected officials with Iberdrola's promised investment, wind power has drawbacks. She said it is expensive, since it requires a subsidy, is often not available when most needed and could be hard to transmit to areas that need it.
Concerns over Iberdrola's ability to manipulate the state's wholesale electric market by owning both transmission and distribution lines and wind generation were "milder" than previous cases that have come before the agency, senior advisory staff told the five PSC commissioners. It's unclear whether the commissioners will support the proposal. The panel plans to discuss the merger at a special session on Wednesday could vote on the deal the same day.
The five commissioners of the Public Service Commission were told by their senior advisory staff today that they should allow Spanish utility Iberdrola SA to build and own wind farms anywhere in the state as part of its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp. ...Senior staff also recommended that the PSC require Iberdrola to set aside between $202 million and $300 million of what is known as public benefit adjustments that would benefit ratepayers.
Interviews with architects, engineers and energy experts on Wednesday suggest that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's proposal to place wind turbines atop the city's skyscrapers and bridges, as well as off the coastline of Queens and Brooklyn, would be complicated and expensive and barely begin to meet the growth in demand for electricity that is expected in the coming years. ...Even if Mr. Bloomberg could find investors willing to build turbines capable of generating 1,000 megawatts of electricity, experts said, operators of the city's grid would be able to count on only 100 megawatts, or less than 1 percent of peak demand.
A state utility regulator on Wednesday questioned whether a $2 billion investment in wind power in New York by a company that wants to buy two upstate utilities is a good idea. "I view the wind proposal in almost a neutral fashion," said Cheryl Buley, a member of the state Public Service Commission. The commission is considering whether to allow Iberdrola, a Spanish-based firm, to buy Energy East Corp.
The Public Service Commission is meeting this week to consider Iberdrola SA's $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp., and its eventual vote on the matter later this month may test one of the state's long-standing energy policies. One of the most contentious issues in the merger of the two utilities is whether Iberdrola, which is based in Spain, should be allowed to own electricity-generating wind farms in New York. ..."The commission can accept, reject or modify whatever is put before them at session," Denn said. "They have the opportunity to review all the evidence in the case and make the best determination possible."
Public Service Commission spokesman James Denn said this morning he doesn't know of any settlement talks between staff at the Department of Public Service and Iberdrola SA, the Spanish utility seeking to acquire Energy East Corp. for $4.5 billion. The merger is going to be discussed at the PSC's monthly meeting Wednesday, and a special session has been scheduled for Aug. 27. A vote on the merger could take place that day.
If Iberdrola does invest $2 billion in New York wind, that will turn a good chunk of "potential" into "capacity." A brief prepared on behalf of PSC staffers says Iberdrola intends to develop 998 megawatts of wind power at $2 million per megawatt - hence, $2 billion. (The staffers, in their brief, say they don't have faith in the promise since it is unenforceable. Also, they say, the company has only proposed $100 million worth of investment on the record.) Some of that money could land here. Iberdrola has agreements with some Hamlin landowners to lease to the company. Earlier this year, over great controversy, the town passed laws to allow wind towers. There's no proposal yet from Iberdrola or any other company, says Supervisor Dennis Roach. He expects that Iberdrola is waiting on the merger decision.
The proposed $4.5 billion takeover of Energy East Corp. by Iberdrola SA of Spain will come before the state Public Service Commission on Aug. 20 and 27, the PSC announced Friday. ...Iberdrola, a big international utility that specializes in wind energy development, proposed the acquisition in June 2007.
Integrity of all government-regulated and supported programs is an absolute requirement in a democratic society. However, characterizing wind energy as a "vital industry" demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of wind energy's capabilities to contribute in a significant way to our energy needs. If your editor had attempted to understand some simple technicalities of wind energy, via even a cursory glance at readily available resources, he/she would have learned the following: ...
Energy expert Glenn Schleede provides an important analysis on why Iberdrola is insisting it continue to own "wind farms" in NY should it gain approval to acquire Energy East and its electric and gas distribution subsidiaries. Mr. Schleede explains the risks to New York's taxpayers and electric customers if Iberdrola get what it wants.
Lawyers for Iberdrola SA are pushing the Public Service Commission to vote on the proposed $4.5 billion merger with Energy East Corp. before its next meeting, which is scheduled for Aug. 20. The Spanish utility has made a well-publicized bid for Maine-based Energy East, which has 1.3 million customers in upstate New York through its Rochester Gas & Electric and New York State Electric & Gas subsidiaries. The PSC has been considering the merger for 12 months ...Galan also said that Iberdrola will not accept any regulatory limits on its ability to build or own wind farms in New York.
The company's president also said during an analysts' conference call that Iberdrola will walk away from the Energy East bid if the New York Public Service Commission mandates that the company must give up its plans to build wind-turbine farms in New York while owning Energy East subsidiaries RG&E and New York State Electric and Gas. "We have gone to the United States with the fundamental priority of building renewable energy, fundamentally wind power, and if they put any limitation on that, we'll say no," Chairman Ignacio Sanchez Galan told analysts today.
At least two companies are interested in offshore wind development in New York's Great Lakes waters - BQ Energy, which developed Lackawanna's Steel Winds, and AWS Truewind. "I don't think it's inevitable, but I think it's very likely," said Bruce Bailey, AWS Truewind's president. There are significant obstacles and unknowns. ...Installing wind turbines in water can be at least twice as expensive because of the cost of mobilizing marine crews, the specialized nature of the installation equipment and the turbines and the need to move the power onshore, experts say. And that doesn't factor in what would be necessary to deal with the ice that often covers the eastern end of Lake Erie in winter.
Iberdrola SA says that if the Public Service Commission does not approve its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp., it will look elsewhere to make the $2 billion in wind-farm investments it plans for New York. "Then Iberdrola would not view New York as a state with an attractive regulatory environment in which to target future investment," the company said in filing Thursday with the PSC. "In that event, Iberdrola would seek to redirect its resources from New York to other locations." Iberdrola's remarks are the latest -- and perhaps the last -- that it will make officially...
The staff of the state Public Service Commission has again advised its five-member board to disapprove the $4.5 billion sale of Energy East Corp. to Iberdrola SA, but staffers have added a big "however" on wind farms. In a brief filed in the long-running case, the PSC staff has offered alternatives if the five public service commissioners approve the sale, according to James Denn, PSC spokesman. Iberdrola, the European utility giant and global leader in wind turbine farms, would be allowed to own and operate wind farms within Energy East territory, but with public benefits attached to the agreement.
The administrative law judge, Rafael Epstein, arguing in his recommended decision that if the wind projects Iberdrola is considering make economic sense, the company likely would build them regardless of whether the merger goes through. And if not Iberdrola, then another wind power developer probably will. [Iberdrola's director of corporate development Pedro] Azagra, however, points out that while the state has as much as 7,000 megawatts of wind power projects on the drawing board, very few of those have actually been built. Iberdrola, he notes, has the financial clout to do it and is the world's largest owner of wind power projects.
Some business leaders and politicians are upset that a state agency is putting roadblocks in the way of a merger between a Spanish power company and RG&E's parent company. ...The PSC staff and the judge are just doing their jobs - to independently review whether the transaction is in the public interest - and politicians shouldn't criticize their recommendations, says Fairport resident Charles Straka. He's not involved with the merger case, but he is an unpaid representative of the average customer - an intervener in technical terms - in an ongoing RG&E rate case. And much of his interest in the merger deals with competition and its effect on rates. "If the Public Service Commission process is overruled, who's going to control rates at all?" he says.
A Rochester-area Democrat is joining state Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno in calling for reform of the Public Service Commission. ...Morelle and Bruno expressed outrage this week when an administrative law judge urged the PSC to place significant conditions on Spanish utility Iberdrola SA in its $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp. ..."Over the last 12 years, New York's energy industry has gone through a massive and unprecedented restructuring designed by bureaucrats without a single legislative act," he said.
Public Service Commission Chairman Garry Brown has agreed to meet with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer about Iberdrola SA's $4.5 billion acquisition of Energy East Corp. Schumer wrote Brown a letter yesterday requesting the meeting, saying he was upset with an administrative law judge's recommended decision in the case earlier in the week. The judge, Rafael Epstein, had recommended that Brown and the commission's four other members only approve the [Iberdrola] deal with significant conditions ...