Library filed under Zoning/Planning from Delaware
Offshore wind farms, such as the one planned off the Sussex County coast, will have to wait to gain federal approval because of a laborious effort to regulate the technology. Bluewater Wind, bolstered by an endorsement from four state agencies last week, hopes to build as many as 200 wind turbines in the Atlantic. The company says its turbines will generate pollution-free electricity at a stable price. At the direction of the state agencies, negotiations have begun between Bluewater and Delmarva Power for a long-term power purchase agreement. But even if they strike a deal, and the company wins state and local permits to build an offshore wind farm, Bluewater will have one time-consuming hurdle left.
DOVER -- Environmentalists exchanged high-fives on Tuesday after four Delaware agencies ordered Delmarva Power to negotiate to buy power from a proposed offshore wind farm -- the first in the United States. Negotiations begin Thursday between Delmarva and Bluewater Wind to see if they can strike a long-term agreement to harness the wind over the Atlantic Ocean for Delmarva's standard offer service customers.
In the meantime, wind power is blowing strong. The Delaware proposal, which should get a preliminary green light this week from state officials, pits wind power against its traditional archrival: cheap, plentiful, but dirty, coal. So far, locals seem to be favoring wind, despite the fact that the turbines will be visible, albeit slightly, on the horizon of heavily trafficked beaches. Those beaches, and the tourists they attract, are a major source of state revenue.
So far, the debate over the windmills has turned on global questions about climate change and very local concerns about the impact on the ocean view. But from the beach, the wind farm's backers say, the giant turbines would look smaller than a boardwalk french fry.
An energy plan that would draw electricity from a natural gas-powered plant and an offshore wind farm in Sussex County could be a net loss for consumers, critics said Thursday. The proposal, issued by the Public Service Commission on Wednesday, would bring the nation's first offshore wind farm to the coast of Delaware. But it also calls for construction of a 177-megawatt natural gas turbine in Sussex County at a site east of Bridgeville to help balance erratic transmissions from the wind farm. And that, said Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, is a costly combination.
A new federal proposal to help electricity flow more freely could help the energy-choked East Coast. But it could also infuriate landowners, who have traditionally gotten their way in fights against utilities in Delaware. U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman last week named Delaware as part of his proposed eastern National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor. It would run from New York to Virginia, and west to Ohio. A second corridor would run through California, Arizona and Nevada.
South Bethany residents can get a sneak peak at what a wind farm off the coast of Delaware would look like. Bluewater Wind, which proposed a 200-turbine wind farm to win a long-term energy contract, is in the midst of a photo visualization tour on Delaware's coast. South Bethany Town Hall is playing host to the exhibit, which features visual displays of the proposed wind farm as it would appear off the coast.
Cape Wind's project has been rocky, with a vocal opposition expressing concerns about the effect off-shore wind turbines would have on fish and bird populations, tourism and property values and fighting the project in court. It is also the first proposed off-shore wind project in the country, raising many questions about the permitting process. But whether the situation in Massachusetts will affect Bluewater Wind's project remains to be seen. "I think it's too early to tell whether it helps or hurts, but any momentum will support additional off-shore wind projects," said Jim Lanard, a spokesman for Bluewater Wind. "We do not expect to run into the major hurdles that Cape Wind has experienced, and therefore predict that our approval process will be considerably shorter than theirs."
A day after a consultant's report called for a delay in choosing a new power plant, speculation mounted that the process is on the verge of sputtering out and could wind up back with the General Assembly. "This has gotten off track," said House Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Gerald Hocker, R-Ocean View. "I think it's going to get thrown back in our laps."
Local residents will be able to see just what a proposed offshore wind farm would look like, before it is even built. Bluewater Wind - which have put in a bid to the state and Delmarva Power to build a 200 turbine offshore wind farm - is planning a photo visualizations tour for the resort coast. The exhibit will feature visual displays of the proposed windfarm as if it were being viewed from Delaware beaches.
With all the discussion of a wind farm possibly being placed in the ocean spanning Delaware's resort coast, the question comes up - is it all just talk? There have been many public meetings, seminars and lectures regarding the offshore wind farm's proposal and a lot of vocal support for it. The wind farm was proposed by Bluewater Wind in response to Delmarva Power being required by the state to look into ways of adding to the power supply. It is one of three bids - the other two being a cleaner-coal facility by NRG and a natural gas plant by Conectiv. Conectiv scored highest in last month's bid evaluations, with Bluewater Wind coming in second and NRG, third. The bids are under review by four state agencies: the Public Service Commission, the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, the Office of Management and Budget and the Controller General's Office. Delmarva Power representatives have requested all three bids be thrown out.
A fight over the right to build a new in-state power plant has turned Delaware into a tiny battleground in the global fight over clean energy technologies and heat-trapping "greenhouse" gas emissions. But with a series of public hearings set to begin on Tuesday, most members of the public are shooting in the dark when it comes to balancing the environmental impact and costs of the projects. Crucial facts about the three competing proposals remain out of public reach or in dispute. On paper, a review by the Public Service Commission offers residents and policymakers a chance at the cleanest electricity available -- whether it be through wind-, coal-, or natural gas-powered plants -- in amounts that officials say will stabilize prices and improve service reliability.
The company that wants to built an offshore wind farm stretching down the Delaware resort coast is crying foul over its proposal’s evaluation. Bluewater Wind LLC — whose bid was ranked second out of three — is requesting that its bid be re-evaluated based on their scores in one category. A re-evaluation could make the eventual construction of its proposed wind turbines more likely.
Delmarva Power has encouraged the state to reject all three energy plant bids, but the bidders are standing by their proposals and the game is far from over. In a filing with the Public Service Commission, the utility company stated moving forward with any of the power plant proposals is not in the best interest of its customers. The company's analysis indicated none of the three proposals offer any savings or price stability and all carry substantial costs. The company received three proposals: a "clean coal" plant from NRG; a wind farm from Bluewater Wind; and a natural gas plant from Conectiv, an affiliate of Delmarva Power.
While many on the lower shore debated the merits of coal, off-shore wind and natural gas for months, Delmarva Power opted to reject all three. In a filing with the Public Service Commission, the utility company stated that moving forward with any of the proposals is not in the best interest of its customers. The company’s analysis indicated none of the three proposals offer any savings or price stability and all carry substantial costs, according to a statement released today.
Bluewater Wind wants the first state to build the first offshore wind plant in the country. While the United States has many on-shore wind farms, Bluewater is proposing to build a wind farm off the Atlantic Coast. The company is proposing two locations: one 11 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach; the other, 6.9 miles off the coast of Bethany Beach. The plant would include 200 turbines and could start spinning as early as 2010.
Despite the ongoing review of billion-dollar proposals to add new-generation coal or off-shore wind farms to Delaware’s mix of power generators, one possible alternative — do nothing — remains a distinct possibility. State lawmakers ordered Delmarva to seek electricity supplies from new Delaware sources last year, with the Public Service Commission, Controller General’s office, Delaware Energy Office and the Office of Management and Budget making the selection. The measure arose in part from public backlash over a 59 percent jump in rates tied to deregulation of the utility industry, along with concerns over Delmarva’s ability to meet consumer demand and pressure for cleaner, “renewable” fuel sources. Plans now call for a choice and referral to Delmarva by May. But agency evaluators could choose none of the above.
Wind power lessons in the North Sea paved some of the road to a proposed 200-turbine wind farm off Delaware’s shoreline. One of the most important findings recently shared from offshore projects in Denmark: Big wind farms can operate with few environmental risks to birds, fish and other aquatic creatures “under the right conditions.” “Appropriate siting of offshore wind farms is an essential precondition for ensuring limited impact on nature and the environment,” the Danish Energy Authority reported in November. Denmark released its report after plugging in what is now the world’s largest offshore wind operation: Two sites with 152 turbines located up to 12.4 miles offshore. “Appropriate” is the key word to Susan Nickerson, a Massachusetts environmentalist who attended a conference in Denmark to mark release of the report last year. “The big discussion that’s unfolding here is: How much data do you need preconstruction, and how much should this concept of ‘adaptive management’ be relied upon,” Nickerson said.
With an already large agricultural industry in Sussex County, a new type of farm is being proposed — but you will not find it on land. A company is proposing to build a wind farm with 200 electricity-generating turbines in the Atlantic Ocean just off the Delaware coast. At a meeting hosted by the Center for the Inland Bays, representatives for Bluewater Wind stated their case for wind power to a crowd of environmental experts and concerned citizens. Bluewater Wind has put in a bid with Delmarva Power to add to Delaware’s power supply.
Three companies have filed bids to supply Delmarva Power with electricity to help satisfy the state’s long-term energy needs. The proposals include a 600-megawatt coal plant, a 180-megawatt gas turbine plant and a 600-megawatt off-shore wind farm.