Tuesday, May 15, 2007

John Carney Speaks

The News Journal reports that Lt. Gov. John Carney, who has been biting his tongue on the issue of Delaware’s energy future, has finally spoken up in public:
Carney said in a written statement Monday he supports the PSC position. Carney said the backup plant may be worth pursuing, “as this may help answer the question of what happens when the wind is not blowing.”
The state should also aggressively pursue conservation efforts, he said.
It is encouraging that he isn’t bucking the PSC, which should make it easier for the other agencies to get in line. What’s interesting is that he has taken a position somewhat different from that of Gov. Minner, who last week still thought that coal power could still be part of the equation:
Gov. Ruth Ann Minner still believes a coal gasification plant could be right for Delaware, despite the Public Service Commission's endorsement this week of wind power.
The governor said it might make sense to combine wind power with NRG Energy's proposed coal plant, a combination that provoked skepticism from some energy specialists.
Her view may have affected the PSC’s decision to direct Delmarva Power to negotiate with Bluewater Wind and with both Conectiv and NRG as potential backup sources. I have to wonder if the decision represents a kind of consolation prize for NRG; it’s hard to see how a coal gasification plant could operate effectively as part of the mix.
John Carney’s decision to speak up illuminates the inside game/outside game dynamics of the process. John’s a consummate inside game player, and a genuine technocrat. He earned a master’s of public administration at UD, and has worked for Joe Biden, Tom Carper (who appointed him finance secretary) and as deputy chief of staff for then county exec Dennis Greenhouse. He’s the kind of guy who will do his homework (considerable in this case), and will rarely stray from the company line. I’m hoping that we can take his comments as a signal that the other agencies (DNREC, Management and Budget and the Controller General) will fall in line behind the PSC next week. It’s hard to imagine that John Carney would take a public position if he didn’t expect that position to be upheld next week.
His statement also reflects a growing recognition of the importance of the outside game. The deliberations of the Public Service Commission rarely attract much attention, but this case is different. Hundreds of citizens have written and spoken in favor of wind and opposing coal. PSC executive Bruce Burcat noted the impact of public engagement in the process:
"A thousand people saying one sentence, we just want wind power, that's one thing. We would take note of that. But they added significantly to the debate, and the information that was provided," Burcat said. "We haven't seen this much involvement by the public in a PSC process before."
A majority of public opinion is one thing, but a passionate, well informed majority is another thing entirely. Wind power is shaping up to be a defining issue in next year’s election, combining concern about global warming, opposition to burning more coal, aspirations to do something unique and positive and a mistrust of DPL.
John Carney has surely noticed that Jack Markell has been out front on this issue all year, first with his comment that price stability was the key consideration in choosing a long term energy source, and more recently with his public letter to Delmarva urging that it reconsider its position of refusing to negotiate a long term energy contract or contracts according to the PSC decision. Delmarva backed down a few days later.
Now Jack has once again put his finger on the key issue before us, turning our attention to the negotiations between DPL, Bluewater Wind and a backup energy supplier:
Markell said Monday he supports the PSC’s directive to Delmarva. “I’ll be even more comfortable when everyone gets in a room and starts talking,” he said.
DPL has voiced its preference for continuing its current practice of buying power in three year contracts, which would leave ratepayers exposed to climbing energy prices. Hopefully, the dynamics of the inside game and outside game will keep the pressure on Delmarva to negotiate seriously.

4 Comments:

Blogger Nancy Willing said...

MArkell is speaking at an event in Centreville this Saturday night to kick-off a new kiddi-DEM group (I'm sorry. I'm bad)
www.ydmovement.org

6:32 PM, May 15, 2007  
Blogger TommyWonk said...

They're not kids; they're our future leaders. I'll be interested in how the group develops.

10:55 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Nancy Willing said...

ah, yes, yes they are kids as well as future leaders Tom.

11:19 PM, May 15, 2007  
Anonymous Young Democrats Movement said...

haha! thanks again Nancy for the remarks about our organization's event. Tom, you are welcome to come, all the information is on our website, www.ydmovement.org

the political part of the evening is from 6 - 7:30 pm

2:10 PM, May 16, 2007  

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