Monday, March 03, 2008

Wind Power in Delaware and Massachusetts

Parade magazine, the insert found among the want ads in Sunday newspapers, ran a story on the debate on wind power across the country. Wendy Williams, one of the co-authors of the book Cape Wind, takes the ongoing fight in Massachusetts as her starting point:
Today, nearly seven years after the idea was proposed, Cape Cod remains divided. Wealthy opponents have spent roughly $20 million trying to stop the project, while the energy developer has spent more than $30 million trying to move it forward. Polls show that more than 80% of the state at large supports the idea. State officials say the project could save New England’s electricity consumers $25 million or more each year.
Similar battles are raging nationwide. On Long Island, N.Y., in Virginia, the Appalachians, Illinois, Vermont and even California—where the modern American wind industry first was developed—opponents have successfully delayed projects. They say that wind turbines are noisy and unsightly, that they are expensive, harm wildlife, rely on federal and state subsidies and do not provide a dependable supply of electricity.
There is no mention of the Bluewater Wind proposal in Delaware, though Willett Kempton is quoted:
The technology also can save consumers money. “Adding wind electricity will drive down the cost of fossil fuels,” says Willett Kempton, a senior policy scientist at the University of Delaware. He believes wind turbines could play a role in stabilizing the U.S. economy.
I have been puzzled by the lack of national attention to the fight in Delaware. Perhaps it's because the argument doesn't fit the Cape Wind model; there is hardly any NIMBY reaction from millionaire homeowners.
Instead, the fight is between environmentalists and ratepayers on one hand and Delmarva Power on the other. It seems pretty clear that Delmarva has significant economic interests at stake, which is why it is fighting the wind farm with such ferocity. What those specific economic interests are is harder to determine; the company isn't saying, but is using the argument that it's looking out for its customers. (And since when is Delmarva Power concerned about the rates it charges?) The motive could be that a new wind farm here in Delaware could provide competition for its sister company, Conectiv. Competition would reduce demand for Conectiv's output, driving prices down. It could be that Delmarva doesn't want to see House Bill 6 implemented and have the state assume greater authority over its energy buying.
At least with the Cape Cod millionaires, we know what the real objection is. They just don't want to look at the things. Here in Delaware, we can't wait to see them start spinning.
The Cape Wind saga has unfolded in the full glare of national publicity. Delaware's fight over wind power has received far less attention, which suits the style of those in Leg Hall who prefer to work their will in obscurity. A little more atttention from the national media might not be a bad thing.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Intriguing analysis.

My knee jerk reaction is that we hear of Massachusetts, only because the "wealthy homeowners" (Kennedy's) are on the same side as the fossil fuel crowd: Opposed to wind power.

In Delaware: we have 94% in favor of wind, and four people blocking it; a much better story by far. But carrying that story would do little to benefit the fossil fuel contingent.

It would actually decrease their public opinion scores.

The real question is why the "controlled?" media is aligned with the fossil fuel lobby.....

That answer is obvious to those who read a lot of news.

And of course the other reason is that you or I have not really been focused on pushing this story outside of Delaware.....I think it is time I get busy.....

(By the way, I have been surprised by the number of international hits my wind stories generate...I expect the same goes with you.)

8:23 AM, March 03, 2008  

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