Saturday, January 05, 2008

Jack Markell on the Stalled Windpower Agreement

Jack Markell writes to members of the General Assembly:
January 3, 2008

Dear [legislator],

The debate on the offshore wind proposal has drifted off course.
All around the world, wind farms are producing energy, on shore and off. We have known that for a long time. HB 6 was not a renewable energy bill or a bill about off-shore wind, and those who now pretend it was are playing games.
This extremely public debate in which we have been engaged was started by a bill that passed both chambers of the General Assembly with overwhelming margins and that set in place a COMPETITIVE process to STABILIZE ENERGY PRICES by building generation capacity in Delaware. The purpose of HB 6 was, in part, to help our state take control of our energy future. It does not in anyway prevent any of our current energy suppliers from contracting in the future with other renewable energy producers such as onshore wind.
I have released a detailed plan that will help make Delaware a national leader in renewable energy, but that is simply not the question we are currently faced with.
HB 6 did not set out searching for a way to fill in some small part of a renewable energy allowance; it called for finding our best option to stabilize pricing in the aftermath of the huge spike in energy prices. After a competitive process ordered by HB 6 and after considerable analysis and public scrutiny, the offshore wind proposal was judged to be the state’s best option. The process by which this was determined was public and fair.
Not moving forward with the proposed bid sets in place a precedent that can only lead to madness. If we spend another 18 months getting new bids looking for on-shore, and out of state renewable energy, as well as a broad array of other options there might be some very incrementally better alternative in 2010. But what happens then? After we proceed through a process, make a selection, and come up to the very brink of an agreement, won’t there be at least the possibility that starting over could lead to an even better alternative in 2012? The possibility of getting an incrementally better deal a few years down the line after that will always exist. This, by itself cannot be a reason to fail to act, now. Delaware needs to lead, not follow.
We need to refocus this debate on the real question at hand:
Does the proposed Power Purchase Agreement fulfill the full intent and mission of the process that set us down this path?
The answer is clearly “Yes.” The fact that there exist renewable energy sources in other states is not a reason to turn our back on the very mission we have undertaken. We have come so far in this process, and so much evidence has mounted that Delaware can become home to the nation’s first off shore wind farm, that any agency head not prepared to accept the Power Purchase Agreement must answer this question:
What new evidence has come forth that leads us to believe the Power Purchase Agreement is not the best possible outcome of the process anticipated and directed by legislators in passing HB 6 in the first place?
So far no such evidence has been brought forth, and if there is still information that casts doubt on this fact, the public deserves to see every one of those details immediately. Absent that evidence and absent following through on the results generated by HB 6’s process, there is significant danger that the people of Delaware may be left blowing in the wind for several more years.

Jack Markell


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