Saturday, January 26, 2008

The State Senate to Hold Hearings on Doing Something Else

After more than a year of hearings, studies, analysis, negotiations and public comments, Harris McDowell wants to hold hearings on doing anything but actually approving the Bluewater Wind agreement. The News Journal has the story:
McDowell, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Transit Committee, said in the statement the purpose of the hearings is to get answers to the questions of "what the state can do to ensure Delaware consumers are getting the best deal possible for green energy."

McDowell plans no fewer than five hearings, one of which will be open to the public at large:

Hearing topics include "Process & Procedures," looking at the process that led to the Bluewater contract; "Technology, Resources and Alternatives," examining the proposed wind farm itself and Delmarva's proposed alternatives; "Cost & Risk Analysis" and "Emerging Technology."
McDowell said the purpose of the meetings were "informational."
"These hearings are going to be fair, above board and impartial," McDowell said. "We'll be calling on all parties interested in green energy, including Bluewater Wind, to discuss their ideas."
That's fair and above board of him to invite the company that has actually negotiated the deal to bring wind power to Delaware.
If you're wondering about the purpose served by the hearings, consider the reactions of environmentalists on one hand and Delmarva Power on the other:
Pat Gearity, spokeswoman for Citizens for Clean Power, said the hearings could be the beginning of an endless round of delays for the Bluewater project.
"We think it's very unfortunate that Senator McDowell has chosen to reopen the debate on this matter after the record was closed in December. The evidence is already in, in the form of thousands of pages of analytical documents, professional commentary and public comment," Gearity said in reference to state consultant reports that supported the Bluewater project.
Bill Yingling, spokesman for Delmarva Power, said: "We look forward to the hearings. This is about getting the best prices for our customers."
As my loyal readers will note, the calculation that wind power will cost an extra $6.46 a month depends on the assumption that natural gas prices will go down over the next four years. As for Mr. Yingling's concern for ratepayers, I have pointed out that it is the State of Delaware, not Delmarva Power, that represents my interests.
The Public Service Commission staff report summarizes the findings of the yearlong process and recommends approval of the agreement with Bluewater Wind. Any legislative hearing that doesn't open by placing that report on the record as its first order of business should be viewed as a stalling tactic or worse.
The attitude of Harris McDowell and Delmarva Power seems to be: We're for renewable energy, just not here and now.
Not here means not in Delaware. Not now means let's scrap the agreement produced by the negotiations and start the whole process over without the requirement that Delmarva actually make a long term commitment to buy renewable energy.
The hearings are scheduled for Feb. 7, 13, 26, 27, and March 5. Stay tuned.


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