Saturday, March 08, 2008

Bluewater, Delmarva and "Virtual Wind"

Harris McDowell held the last of his hearings on wind power yesterday. Bluewater Wind and its parent company Babcock & Brown were up, followed by Delmarva Power. Hired gun Randall Speck again handled the questions for the committee. At least today, the witnesses knew what was coming.
Hunter Armistead runs the North American Energy Development Group for Babcock & Brown. He would be the guy in charge of building and operatings the wind farm, and by all accounts he knows his stuff.
Aaron Nathans reports in the News Journal that the environmental benefits of out of state wind were disputed. Armistead was was sceptical on the benefits of wind power elsewhere on the grid, calling it "virtual wind":
"The only true way to reduce emissions in the area is to actually inject renewables into the area," Armistead said.
But Delmarva officials saw it another way. Citing a PJM Interconnection official who spoke at the hearings, they contended environmental benefits of an offshore wind farm would be spread throughout the grid. It wouldn't be coal that would go first, but more-expensive fossil fuels such as oil, said company spokesman Bill Yingling.
As it turns out the impact depends on the load on the grid at any given time:
PJM spokesman Ray Dotter, reached Friday, said that when the transmission lines on the peninsula are congested, wind power would displace traditional, high-cost sources of electricity nearby. On low-congestion days, power could be dispatched from afar, so the impact on fossil fuels would be diluted, he said.
The question of Delmarva Power's resistance to Bluewater Wind came up:
Armistead called Delmarva cordial in working toward a productive resolution, but "it was very clear it was a very reluctant dance partner."
Armistead said he wondered why the utility was resisting, and said he believed it was because the wind farm would take away business from Delmarva's sister company, Conectiv.
Armistead may be on to something. Delmarva Power does buy power from its sister company Conectiv, albeit through a competitive process. For instance Conectiv had won the right to supply with 56 percent of the load to residential and small commercial and industrial customers (the largest category of the SOS load) in the 2007-2008 period. Conectiv did not win any bids in the round that was just completed.
If the Bluewater Wind project is given the green light, Delmarva Power will have fewer dollars on the table for the annual bidding process, which would tighten the competition Conectiv faces in the annual bidding.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conectiv is building a big new gas plant in Pennsylvania, which will supply Constellation Energy with power. Some of that power is going to Lewes Delaware. Lewes residents were just informed that their new contract with Constellation will increase their electric rates by 15%! Hey, the peasants are connecting the dots, while the Legislature acts like they don't know. BTW Lewes is near Indian River PP., where the MAPP line will come. Pepco will build the MAPP line, at the expense of Delaware DPL and others. Forget wind farms in PA, this is about Conectiv money. The whole thing is rotten to the core.

6:32 PM, March 08, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom -

Are questions from he comittee in these "hearings" coming all from Speck?

It seems like a trial in which only the prosecution thought to hire legal counsel.

11:00 AM, March 09, 2008  

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