Saturday, October 27, 2007

Wind Power Comment Rescue

Wind power is a hot topic of conversation these days, so much so that it's hard to keep up with all that's being said. So today I offer some miscellaneous comments, from online and on the air.
Wind Turbine Gearbox
As I noted yesterday, the News Journal, in what must be a first for local journalism, ran a front page story about a gearbox. State Rep. John Kowalko e-mailed me these observations:
For 25 years I worked at the Delaware City Refinery as the General Foreman of the Machine Shop. Throughout that time there were constant adjustments and upgrades made to thousands of pieces of equipment that functioned under the most severe conditions. Gearbox modifications and upgrades are made responsibly. Proactive development and redesign of parts that undergo stressful operational conditions is part of a successful formula to achieve longevity and lower maintenance costs. The fact that VESTAS has a substantial time frame to address this particular matter before installation dates speaks well for the most optimal outcome and success for its product. I worry that the forces arrayed against Wind Power are taking advantage of a bias in the media or the messengers lack of understanding of technology. Moving backward from a clean, alternative energy production that guarantees price stability is certainly not the answer.
Dana Garrett on WHYY's Delaware Tonight
Dana, who writes Delaware Watch, was invited on to the news in review panel with freelance journalist Rita Farrell and Delaware Today editor Mark Nardone. Appearing without his pundit's pipe, Dana demonstrated he had done his homework on wind power. Dana, who said he had spoken with UD professor Jeremy Firestone, argued that Delaware should double the size of the oringinal wind farm (400 instead of 200 turbines or the 150 turbines now being negotiated) and export the electricity to other states. As of this morning, WHYY has not yet posted the segment.
First State Politics and Wind Power
Over at FirstState Politics, Dave Anderson published this strong post on wind power:
The Bluewater wind-farm has wide support among the population of Delaware. Some people support it because they think wind energy will save the planet or some nonsense. Others support it because they understand that we need energy diversification based upon local sources. Still others understand that nonpolluting sources have an economic value by eliminating costs shifting on to other people. Stop making people sick. Why not figure that into true energy costs?
Why not indeed? Jeremy Firestone and Willett Kempton of the University of Delaware have estimated the health benefits of wind power to be as much as $1 billion.
Dave A. may agree with the White House that global warming is good for you, but I welcome his voice on the wind power issue. I'm not looking for converts; I'm looking for allies.
The SEU and RECs
At the end of his interview with Allan Loudell two weeks ago, Harris McDowell tried to dismiss concerns that Delmarva Power is using undue influence in the General Assembly:
Loudell: Does the fact that Delmarva Power has given political contributions to a lot of lawmakers, how much does that weigh in all of this?
McDowell: Oh I don't know. I consider them -- I'm very unhappy with Delmarva Power. They gave away the people's rights when they gave the RECs away to this development.
RECs are Renewable Energy Credits. McDowell's SEU (Sustainable Energy Utility) will need RECs to provide a funding stream to finance distributed energy sources like solar panels and more efficient appliances. His comment suggests that he's worried that Bluewater Wind will make it harder for the SEU to use this tool once the wind farm come on line in 2012. (By the way his complaint about Delmarva Power seems a little odd when the company hasn't actually agreed to a deal with Bluewater Wind.)
There is no limit to the number of RECs that can be issued in Delaware in any given year, but the entry of a large seller of credits could affect the price. Would it be enough to sink the SEU? It's hard to predict how a nascent market will perform, but I don't think that the SEU would fail because of a price drop in RECs. Even so, McDowell's concern about RECs could be a factor in his opposition to the wind farm.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Dana, who said he had spoken with UD professor Jeremy Firestone, argued that Delaware should double the size of the oringinal wind farm (400 instead of 200 turbines or the 150 turbines now being negotiated) and export the electricity to other states."


Will the Delaware General Assembly somehow mandate that our neighbors buy this premium electricity too?

1:16 PM, October 28, 2007  

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