Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Wind Power: Progress to Date

I thought it would be useful to recap the events of the last two weeks:
April 24: Senator Harris McDowell’s task force published its report on the proposed Sustainable Utility (SEU), which would finance demand management projects in Delaware. Senator McDowell has voiced his opinion that the SEU alone should meet Delaware’s energy needs.
SB 18, which would create an SEU, is on the Senate agenda.
May 2: The
Public Service Commission (PSC) staff report recommended that Delmarva Power be directed to negotiate a contract to build a wind power farm with a natural gas backup facility.
Also, the Delaware Municipal Energy Corporation (DEMEC)
announced a deal to purchase $200 million to $300 million of electricity from Bluewater Wind over the next 25 years. This important development was not reported in the News Journal until a week later. I don’t fault the reporters; Aaron Nathans and Jeff Montgomery have done a pretty good job of covering the story. I just think there has been more to write about than available column inches.
May 3: Delmarva Power president Gary Stockbridge said the company won’t negotiate a long term deal unless forced to by a court.
May 4: State treasurer Jack Markell fired off a letter to Mr. Stockbridge:
I was disappointed to learn of your reaction to the recommendations of the Public Service Commission’s staff report released on May 2nd which recommended that your company negotiate with both Bluewater Wind LLC and Conectiv Energy.
Thursday’s News Journal attributed to you the statement that “Even if the commission votes to accept the conclusions of the report, Delmarva will refuse to negotiate,” and that “We will take any action at our disposal to prevent that."
I imagine that this letter, which went unreported in most local media, landed loudly on Mr. Stockbridge's desk.
Also, University of Delaware Professor Willett Kempton circulated a letter he wrote to the PSC with Jonathon Levy of the Harvard School of Public Health, in which
they estimate the net public health costs of forgoing wind power in favor of continuing to burn fossil fuels:
With the inclusion of other health outcomes and given the factors described above that might imply greater benefits per unit emissions reduction in Delaware, the discounted present value of the health benefits of the proposed wind park likely greatly exceeds $1 billion.
This important result also got lost in the media shuffle of the last two weeks.
May 7: The
Office of Management and Budget published a consultant’s report recommending the creation of a state energy authority.
May 8: The PSC voted to direct Delmarva to open negotiations with Bluewater Wind and negotiate with Conectiv Energy and NRG Energy to back up the wind farm with a gas plant, located in Sussex County. Also, as the News Journal reported,
Delmarva seemed to back off threats to defy the state’s authority to make it negotiate with a new power supplier:
As the Public Service Commission endorsed offshore wind power Tuesday, Delmarva Power appeared to be showing more willingness to consider local sources of new electricity.
The commission voted unanimously for Delmarva to open negotiations with Bluewater Wind to buy power generated by as many as 100 turbines off either Bethany Beach or Rehoboth Beach.
The commission also directed Delmarva to negotiate with Conectiv Energy and NRG Energy to back up the wind farm with a gas plant, located in Sussex County.
The PSC’s decision will likely be made public as an order promulgated at its meeting on May 22. The Office of Management and Budget, Controller General and DNREC also have to agree for the PSC’s decision to take effect.
Then we have the question of how effectively Delmarva will pursue the matter. The OMB’s consultant made an interesting point in reviewing the history of utility regulation:

Regulation is much better at restraining a ready, willing and able utility, than at pushing an unwilling utility to take on a responsibility with no easy solutions.

Public involvement has brought us thus far; public involvement is essential to seeing this process through to a successful conclusion. Stay tuned, stay well informed, and stay involved.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally I want to thank you for the time you took with this issue.

There were many times I looked to your blog just to find what was going on.

Where to go from here?

Bigger wind. Investigate, comprehend, analyze, and disseminate the benefits of a bigger and better wind farm than was currently proposed.

I can think of one already. 600 MW of electricity at .023 cents per KW, as opposed to 200 MW at .023 cents per hour, means more cheaper electricity for North Eastern America and lower energy costs for all.

Also with Blue Water's buy in, Delaware needs to continue the pursuit of Tyler's energy net, allowing private homes to generate their own renewable energy and selling the excess back to the grid.

Since most homes waste 90% of their heat, simultaneously attacking inefficiency and waste would be a start.

1:34 AM, May 10, 2007  
Blogger Nancy Willing said...

Regulation is much better at restraining a ready, willing and able utility, than at pushing an unwilling utility to take on a responsibility with no easy solutions.

this is malarkey, IMO.

We do not have REGULATIOJN at present......our august state leadership removed that oversight. Regulation is the solution for compel a resolution of the problem at hand of an

"unwilling utility to take on a responsibility"

3:10 PM, May 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gov. Minner's about to screw the people. She still wants IGCC with maybe a little wind. Any wind. Maybe she and the rest of the Democrats will line up & blow us some hot air in the winter when we're freezing in the dark - because we can't afford power from an IGCC. Welcome to Delaware. The No-Brainer State.

10:59 PM, May 10, 2007  

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