Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Finally, Some Action on Wind Power

It has been nearly three months since legislative leaders forced a deadlock on the agreement with Bluewater Wind. Today the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee took the first step towards approving the power purchase agreement, when it voted to release HCR 38 out of committee.
It was anything but a done deal when the meeting was called to order. The committee chairman, Gerald Hocker, opposes the Bluewater Wind deal. But he conducted a fair hearing, giving everyone the chance to speak. Delmarva Power president Gary Stockbridge was the only member of the public who spoke agains HCR 38.
An element of drama was injected into the proceedings when Bethany Hall-Long, one of the committee votes in favor was running up against her need to meet a commitment outside of Leg Hall. The word was passed to wind power supporters to either shorten or postpone their chance to speak, so that the votes would be there when the question was called. HCR 38 was released to the floor, and Rep. Hall-Long was only ten minutes late getting to her next meeting.
The committee next took up HCR 40, which would ask DNREC's Energy Office to draft legislation to spread the rate base beyond Delmarva Power's customers. This is vigorously opposed by the downstate co-ops, which didn't subject their customers to the 59 percent rate hike that prompted HB 6 in the first place. (I will have more on this question in the near future.) HCR 40 was released to the full House as well, as part of an agreement to allow both to go forward.
I suspect that HCR 40 will not be fatal to the prospects of approving the wind power deal, even though I don't think it's timely or appropriate. HCR 38 has more support than HCR 40. You might think of this as an example of the arcane machinations that make life in Leg Hall so interesting.
The next question is when HCR 38 comes to the floor of the House. I'm hoping it will be next week. Stay tuned.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you explain why there would be opposition to spreading the cost of the wind farm among the customer base? Isn't that how things work, regardless of the source of generation? (I.E. levelized cost of Capital, Operations and Maintenance and Fuel = x cents per kWh for the customer base)

10:09 PM, March 12, 2008  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

Good questions, Nick. If you don't mind, I'll get to them by early next week. STay tuned.

10:59 PM, March 12, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How wonderful! What is finally an encouraging report from the people's house.
Hocker can be commended for his hearing today, by all accounts. Maria Evans decided to lay the cards out and she gave us fair warning as to where Gerald may stifle things (warnings given aplenty by Alan Muller over the years).

Driving home tonight, I reflected on Roger Roy's announcement of his retirement from the TMA recently. I believe that it pretty much can be seen as a real turning of the page. Things just aren't going to be conducted like they always were in Dover.
And by extension, the system that used to keep the Roger Roys phat in the (public) money they were accustomed to consuming, is now opening to the scrutiny it had successfully shuttered itself from.

12:01 AM, March 13, 2008  

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