Friday, May 11, 2007

Governor Minner Speaks on Delaware's Energy Future

Delawareans have been fervently arguing about Delaware’s energy future for months. So what does our governor think? The News Journal asked her:
"Going forward, the IGCC (coal gasification plant) bid could still be a positive improvement to Indian River, but it must be compared and possibly integrated into a solution that may include environmentally beneficial options, such as wind," she said in the statement.
The backstory is that last year, Minner stood with NRG executives in announcing a new coal gasification facility at the company’s Indian River site. You can find the press release here:
Curtis Morgan, president of NRG’s Northeast Region, said the company would move forward with plans to build a 630-megawatt Integrated Coal Gasification Combined Cycle, or “clean coal” plant on its Millsboro site. Clean coal technology removes up to 90 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions, up to 80 percent of oxides of nitrogen emissions, and up to 75 percent of mercury emissions, according to NRG. The new plant also will have the ability to capture emissions of carbon dioxide, a “greenhouse gas” that contributes to global warming of the earth’s atmosphere.
“NRG’s idea was very straightforward, but untried in our state,” Governor Minner said. “This proposal will significantly improve our environment by turning a polluting facility into a model of state-of-the-art clean technology.”
It seemed like a good idea at the time, according to DNREC secretary John Hughes:
John A. Hughes, secretary of natural resources department, said much has changed since Minner and NRG made their statement last year. "It was one of the best deals we've seen in years," said Hughes, speaking of the coal gasification plant. The proposal included the shutdown of two older, higher-polluting units at Indian River, he noted.
But, Hughes argued, that did not remain the best proposal as the bids began coming in.
"Cleaner than very clean is not using the energy in the first place," Hughes said, referring to wind power, several hours before Minner released her statement. "Clean wind" is also cleaner than coal, he said.
Hughes said Minner is part of the process, but didn't ask his office to delay a vote and won't tell his office how to vote.
Last week, the Public Service Commission (PSC) staff recommended that Delmarva Power be directed to negotiate with Bluewater Wind to build a wind farm and with Conectiv to build a natural gas backup facility. Tuesday, the PSC adopted the staff recommendations but added that NRG’s proposal should be considered as a backup facility as well. I have no way of knowing why NRG was added to the mix, though I do find it reassuring that John Hughes is saying that DNREC will not be told how to vote.
Even so, Governor Minner seems to hold out some hope that NRG’s proposal could still be feasible. As far as I’m concerned, being including in the negotiating mix can be thought of as a nice consolation prize for NRG and the trade unions backing its proposal, but making the economic or environmental numbers work for coal seems to me extremely unlikely.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

US President Tim Kalemkarian, US Senate Tim Kalemkarian, US House Tim Kalemkarian: best major candidate.

6:09 PM, May 11, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

never heard of him, never heard of him, never heard of him.

9:02 PM, May 11, 2007  

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