Articles filed under General from Delaware
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 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.
A Senate committee chairman faced criticism Thursday for surprising Public Service Commission representatives with a grilling by a Washington lawyer over the Bluewater Wind contract. The Senate Energy and Transit Committee, led by Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, held a hearing Wednesday at Legislative Hall over a long-term contract for Delmarva Power to buy offshore wind power from Bluewater Wind. McDowell has generally been critical of the project. But instead of lawmakers asking most of the questions, McDowell's committee hired attorney Randall Speck, who asked detailed questions of PSC officials for more than 2 1/2 hours. McDowell was authorized by the Democratic leadership to spend up to $35,000 on legal fees.
The attorney, Randall Speck, was hired by the Senate Energy and Transit Committee, led by Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington, who has been holding hearings to examine whether there are lower-cost ways for the state to buy renewable power. Wednesday's hearing was the first to deal specifically with the Bluewater Wind contract, of which McDowell has generally been critical. Speck, whose résumé includes helping states with electrical deregulation and its after-effects, veered into familiar lines of questioning from critics of the offshore wind power contract.
Many people have been asking why the Senate Energy and Transit Committee is holding hearings on the state's green energy options during the General Assembly's budget break. My simple answer is that, as elected officials, we owe it to our citizens to gather as much information as possible on this fast-evolving subject before locking our people into the largest state-mandated contract in Delaware's history. ...Senate leaders hope these hearings can address lingering concerns about the proposed power purchase agreement and how it would affect Delaware's future.
A controversial set of Senate hearings begins tonight in Dover probing whether other forms of green energy are cheaper than the Bluewater Wind project. But critics say the organizer, Sen. Harris McDowell III, D-Wilmington, is trying to change the subject after Bluewater was the only renewable energy provider to respond to a state request for proposals last year. McDowell's Senate Energy and Transit Committee will begin the first of five hearings on renewable energy options tonight at 6:30 in Legislative Hall. Representatives of environmental groups were invited and are expected to speak. ...Sen. Robert Venables, D-Laurel, speaking during vacation in Florida, said he plans to send an assistant to tonight's hearing. He said when Bluewater dropped its price, he wondered whether "there was a lot of money that was stuck on that shouldn't have been stuck on to start with." "I don't think he's trying to slow it down," Venables said of McDowell. "We consider him more up on these energy issues than anyone else. He's considered one of the experts across the country."
The Senate Energy and Transit Committee will be holding a series of hearings aimed at answering questions that have gone unaddressed during the request-for-proposals process that led to the now-tabled contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power for an offshore wind farm. Five hearings are scheduled.
Bluewater Wind's parent company has pledged to make Delaware the hub of its Mid-Atlantic offshore operations if the state approves a long-term wind power contract with Delmarva Power. Lt. Gov. John Carney requested the promise from Babcock and Brown, an Australia-based global energy and investment company that acquired Bluewater last year. Carney announced today the company had agreed to the pledge.
A Senate committee is set to start hearings next month on whether Delaware can do better than the Bluewater Wind offshore wind power project. Bluewater supporters called the hearings a delay tactic. ...McDowell said the purpose of the meetings were "informational." "These hearings are going to be fair, above board and impartial," McDowell said. "We'll be calling on all parties interested in green energy, including Bluewater Wind, to discuss their ideas." ...Meanwhile, a University of Delaware professor has filed a complaint seeking to halt Delmarva's effort to seek land-based wind power resources. ...Firestone, assistant professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware, said Delmarva should have to wait until after the Bluewater matter is settled before seeking wind power resources for that time period. Firestone said Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge is seeking the on-shore resources as a way to attack the state-mandated process that led to the Bluewater contract.
For a variety of reasons, the proposed Bluewater wind farm is a bad idea and should be rejected. I propose an alternative that the state should consider. ... The proposed facility off the coast of Rehoboth Beach has some advantages. Being miles offshore, problems with bird and bat kills and noise should be minimized. The windmills will be mostly invisible from the beaches. The main problems are the Bluewater proposal will be very expensive and will supply relatively little power. ...Engineering experience in Europe indicates that wind farms average about 20 percent of their maximum capacity. The Bluewater proposal is for a 450- megawatt system, but Delmarva would be obligated to buy only 300 megawatts at a time. The average output would be about 60 to 90 megawatts -- only 5 percent to 7 percent of Delaware's current electrical load. Even this estimate likely overstates the wind farm's contribution. Not only do winds vary, they vary unpredictably. Even with the best hourly weather forecasts, prediction errors will be made. To counter these random variations and provide a constant voltage on the electrical grid, some extra power will be generated -- and wasted.
With a proposed contract for off-shore wind through BlueWater Wind tabled pending more state senate hearings, officials with Delmarva Power and Light (DPL) on Tuesday announced that they will take advantage of the time to explore other options for renewable energy - particularly, on-shore wind energy. DPL President Gary Stockbridge announced Jan. 22 that the company would begin "reaching out to developers" that day, "asking for a range of options for renewable energy" for a bid period ranging from five to 25 years - that outside date being the term for the proposed contract with BlueWater Wind. "To date, the only option that has been explored has been the off-shore proposal," Stockbridge said. He referenced a state staff report that indicated the off-shore option would come would a 45 to 55 percent cost premium when compared to on-shore wind-power options. "Having those options in hand is important before we decide what's best for our customers," he said. "It's our duty to provide the lowest costs for our customers."
Nearly a dozen environmental groups are suing the federal Department of Energy, accusing it of harming the environment, not doing its homework and not complying with federal laws. At issue is the designation of a high-transmission electricity corridor that has raised the ire of environmentalists and green-power supporters, including Lt. Gov. John Carney. Charging that the Department of Energy (DOE) neglected to analyze the environmental impact of the proposed corridor or consult with the appropriate agencies, the lawsuit says, "As a result of these failures, DOE's designation will increase greenhouse gas emissions, adversely impact endangered species and otherwise harm the environment." The department first designated the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Oct. 5, 2007, because it deemed the Northeast's energy transmission system to be congested.
Conectiv Energy is moving ahead with its plans to build a big natural gas-fired power plant in southeastern Pennsylvania. The 545-megawatt facility near Delta, Pa., will run on natural gas in the warmer months, and when homeowners need that gas to heat their homes in the winter, it will switch over to fuel oil. The plant will be able to provide enough electricity to power 545,000 homes. ...This is a time of building for Conectiv. It is also constructing a 100-megawatt power plant in Cumberland, N.J., and it is bidding for the right to build a natural gas-fired power plant to back up a proposed wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. Those plans are on hold after legislative leaders blocked the wind farm plan last week
State lawmakers have blocked an offshore wind power contract, forcing a deadlock among four state agencies and relegating the project to an uncertain fate. The Public Service Commission and three other state agencies were expected to vote on the contract Tuesday, ending a yearlong process initiated after lawmakers ordered them to explore ways to stabilize energy prices. After ruling out alternatives, regulators earlier this year asked Bluewater Wind LLC and Delmarva Power to negotiate a contract. But the very lawmakers who orchestrated the negotiations shut them down, at least temporarily. House Speaker Terry Spence, R-Stratford, said he was concerned about the cost of the project, $1 billion to construct 150 turbines off the coast of Rehoboth Beach.
If the agencies spread the costs, it could force some of the state's largest employers to consider their own plans of action. If industrial customers embrace the wind farm, they would pay more but gain environmental bragging rights they could use in advertising. If they fight it, they could save money but risk appearing responsible for the project's demise . The recommendation comes a day after a state consultant gave a largely favorable report about the wind farm, estimating the above-market price to the average Delmarva residential customer to be $6.50 a month. That cost could be cut in half if all Delmarva ratepayers are included, and lower still if all Delaware electricity users - such as those in the Delaware Electric Cooperative - are included, the consultant wrote. The staff report noted that no one knows exactly how high fossil fuel costs will go, but the wind contract offers a stable price.
The cost of offshore wind power could be cut in half if all Delmarva Power customers were required to participate, a state consultant said in a report issued Thursday. The report, which was mostly favorable toward the offshore wind project, could give Bluewater Wind momentum going into Tuesday's decisive meeting in Dover. And it could give a basis for the Public Service Commission to spread out the costs. The PSC will join three other state agencies to decide whether to direct Delmarva to sign a 25-year deal with Bluewater in an effort to stabilize prices and curb emissions. ...Onshore wind farms offer prices 24 percent to 36 percent lower than Bluewater's project, he said. Delmarva contends the savings would be about 45 percent. But he included a pointed caveat: As onshore wind developers build, they will use up the good sites. Developers will eventually focus on less windy sites, resulting in higher costs. When that happens, there will be a move to build offshore, he said.
Bluewater Wind reduced its selling price of wind energy in a proposed contract with Delmarva Power that also includes a guarantee of millions more in revenue for the developer. On Monday, the Public Service Commission released the proposed 25-year power purchase contract between the two parties, with an arbitrator deciding disputed issues. Delmarva has not embraced the price outlined in the contract, setting the stage for a showdown next Tuesday in Dover. Four state agencies will consider the contract and decide whether to order Delmarva to sign it. ...One reason for the price drop is a new source of revenue for Bluewater. Delmarva Power would buy all the renewable energy credits generated by the project, according to the proposed contract, which could approach 1.4 million credits. That's a purchase of significantly more credits than the figure in the September term sheet, which was 175,000.
Bluewater Wind has reduced its proposed selling price of wind power by about 7 percent, but Delmarva Power is still refusing to agree to a 25-year power purchase agreement. Nevertheless, the Public Service Commission today released a proposed contract between the two parties. Four state agencies will decide on Dec. 18 whether to force Delmarva to sign it. The proposed contract pegs the price of wind power at 9.893 cents per kilowatt hour. That's down from 10.59 cents per kilowatt hour in the contract Bluewater submitted in September. ...In his cover letter to the contract, Hamermesh wrote: "While it is labeled an 'agreement,' and Bluewater has indicated that it is prepared to enter into that agreement, I wish to make clear there are important aspects of it which Delmarva opposes, and there is therefore no mutually acceptable PPA [power purchase agreement] at this point."
Delmarva Power recently discussed in the media an estimated figure of more than $20 billion in relation to the cost of a proposed offshore wind farm and backup power generation facility in Delaware (The News Journal Sunday Perspective, Nov. 18). ...Correctly stated, this figure represents the potential total cost of power supply for all Delmarva Power standard offer service in Delaware for 25 years -- rather than the total cost to customers for just the wind farm and a backup provider.