Saturday, January 05, 2008

Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf on Wind Power

Rep. Peter Schwartzkopf has sent this letter on wind power to his colleagues:
To the Members of the General Assembly:

Many of you know that I am an ardent supporter of bringing the wind power proposal to Delaware and, in particular, off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. On 4/6/06, HB 6 was overwhelmingly passed in the House and the Senate and signed by the Governor. That was all done in one day which highlights the importance that we placed on the process at that time. The process proceeded over the past year and a half and Bluewater Wind emerged with their proposal for a wind farm approx. 10 miles offshore.
Of the four entities mandated by HB 6 to vote, Controller General Russ Larson’s vote is supposed to represent the wishes of the legislators. The final vote to accept the offshore wind proposal was scheduled for 12/18/07. The week before that vote, Russ met with the House and Senate leadership for their input. One of their concerns was spreading out any increase in initial costs over a larger customer base which reduces the individual cost per household because HB 6 only pertained to residential and small commercial customers of Delmarva Power. The PSC staff recommended that the cost be spread over Delmarva’s entire customer base and that was acceptable and could be accomplished by the PSC without any legislation. I wasn’t there but I think that was agreeable to the members of leadership.
Now here is where the facts get a little fuzzy. Sometime after that meeting and before the scheduled vote, the initial recommendation of the PSC was misrepresented and the idea was put forth to spread the cost over all of the energy users in Delaware. That is not acceptable to those legislators who primarily represent Delaware Electric Co-Op customers and I agree with them. Part of my district uses the Co-Op but the majority are Delmarva customers. It would not be fair to impose what could be considered a tax on a company to help pay the costs of another company when the first company receives no benefit for the increased cost. With that proposal, some of the legislative support collapsed and Russ was left dangling in the wind on the day of the vote. He did the best thing he could have possibly done by asking to postpone the vote. Forcing a vote at that time with such uncertainty on the part of the legislature would have surely doomed the proposal.
I was extremely disappointed that a vote was not taken to bring a wind farm to Delaware. I think we are missing a great opportunity to provide stable energy pricing, environmental and health benefits, and much needed tourism and economic development possibilities. The public has spoken very loudly on this issue. The polls that I have heard about completed by U.D. have over 90% approval for the wind proposal even if the initial cost is a little higher. There have been hundreds of letters and emails sent to all of us and the PSC has hours of testimony in favor of the wind. We know exactly what we will be paying for wind for the next 25 years. Can we say that about any other power source such as coal? And, there is no risk to the State or Delmarva should Bluewater falter. The risk and financial backing is strictly on Bluewater.
Since the delayed vote, it has been very difficult to ascertain what actually transpired because of all the rumors, deceptive comments and misrepresentations which are being bandied around. I have heard so many versions some of which are obviously untrue. I have also talked to several of you who have many questions about HB 6, the process itself, the pros and cons of a wind farm, the cost spreading alternatives if there is an increased initial cost, and overall just what happened leading up to the vote. Are there questions? Yes, but we need to set a course and I think wind is the proper direction. We need to have those questions answered by someone who does not have any personal or financial interest in the wind farm proposal.
I ask that you join me in requesting the House and Senate leadership to convene a meeting either jointly or separate and allow the independent consultant, not Bluewater Wind or Delmarva or the PSC, to address the many questions that we have followed by an explanation as to what happened leading up to the vote on 12/18/07. If Russ is voting on our behalf, then we need to be fully informed so that we can express our will on our leadership to represent us fairly.

Rep. Schwartzkopf
Rep. John Kowalko seconds Rep. Schwartzkopf:
I would like to join Representative Schwartzkopf in respectfully requesting a briefing with the independent consultant to better inform the members of the General Assembly and objectively address their concerns.

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