Thursday, April 24, 2008

Two Very Different Reports on Wind Power

The Senate Energy & Transit Committee released its report on the Bluewater Wind proposal yesterday. It's not much improved from the draft that was leaked. Here's the conclusion, with some commentary:
(1) The Senate should instruct the Controller General to give great weight to this report when considering all long-term contracts currently proposed under HB-6.
Harris McDowell had intended for this sentence to be more definitive, and to have the Senate adopt the report as the vehicle for killing the Bluewater Wind project.
(2) The General Assembly should continue to monitor implementation of an IRP that includes competitively bid, long-term contracts for renewable generation resources including land-based wind;
In other words, the General Assembly should do what Delmarva Power wants.
(3) The General Assembly should consider adopting a fixed incentive similar to the approach implemented in New Jersey to stimulate competitive development of offshore wind generation resources.
This is something Charlie Copeland has been advocating. New Jersey has committed $18 million to helping build an offshore wind project, for which it has received several bids. The bidders are not required to propose the use of a long term power purchase agreement, though they almost certainly will. As for suggesting that taxpayer dollars be used to help finance a wind power facility, that simply isn't going to happen in the current budget crunch.
(4) The General Assembly should consider forming by joint resolution, a task force to investigate the feasibility of a demonstration project for an offshore wind facility financially supported by the federal government and the states of Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and Virginia.
This one's a beauty. Let's get four states and the federal government to work together on wind power when three states already engaged in their seperate procurement programs. It would take a year to even convene a meeting on this approach. And yet, it would allow the report's authors to claim that they really do like wind power.
In short the report recommends not one, but three ways to say we like wind power, just not here and just now now.
Yesterday, Karen Peterson, one of two dissenting committee members, released
a minority report disputing the committee report. (Disclosure: I contributed to the minority report.) Here's the opening paragraph:
This Minority Report is intended to (1) explain the basic facts, (2) refute some of the many errors—factual, analytical and legal—of the "Comprehensive Report on Affordable, Environmentally Friendly Energy with a Detailed Analysis of the Proposed Bluewater Power Purchase Agreement" (herein referred to as the Draft Report), and (3) present a more balanced view of the Bluewater Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Senate's consideration.
The minority report presents five key findings and recommendations:
1. The Bluewater Wind PPA has advantages of stabilizing electricity price without raising electric rates significantly above their current level. It can be justified purely on the basis of protecting ratepayers from future price increases, the primary original purpose of HB 6.
2. The Bluewater Wind proposal and PPA meet all the requirements of HB 6, and was correctly selected among competing bidders by all four Delaware Agencies (the PSC, OMB, DNREC, and the Controller General) in their unanimous May 22 and December 4, 2007 decisions .
3. In addition, approval of the PPA would result in employment, health, environmental and economic development benefits that no other option can replicate.
4. The Draft Report is deeply flawed in its findings, analysis, methodology and understanding of the legal and technical issues surrounding the implementation of HB 6 and the negotiation of the Bluewater PPA. It is a one-sided document that echoes the economic, policy, and legal arguments of Delmarva Power while ignoring the views of those who disagree with the Committee Chairman.
5. HCR 38 should be brought to a vote and adopted by the Senate.
Back in January, Harris McDowell promised that his hearings and the subsequent report would be "fair, above board and impartial." If that had been the case, then the minority report would not have been necessary.
For instance,
I offered testimony to the committee demonstrating that the argument that we can't afford wind power was based on an assumption that natural gas prices would go down instead of up. The minority report details how that assumption is unwarranted. The committee report ignores the point entirely.
Update: Thanks to Maria Evans of WGMD,
who has posted both reports online.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anybody know what legal requirements must be met to impeach a sitting Senator?

12:15 PM, April 24, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure, but in searching I found the State Seantor's Oath of Office:

"I, ____(name), proudly swear ( or affirm) to carry out the responsibilities of the office of __(name of office)_____________ to the best of my ability, freely acknowledging that the powers of this office flow from the people I am privileged to represent. I further swear (or affirm) always to place the public interest above any special or personal interests, and to respect the right of future generations to share the rich historic and natural heritage of Delaware. In doing so I will always uphold and defend the Constitutions of my Country and my State, so help me God."

No other oath, declaration or test shall be required as a qualification for any office of public trust.

It is an open and shut case or there is no such thing as an open and shut case.

12:47 PM, April 24, 2008  
Anonymous Ellen Lebowitz said...

"As for suggesting that taxpayer dollars be used to help finance a wind power facility, that simply isn't going to happen in the current budget crunch."

It is just too ironic that this would even be suggested as preferable over the current PPA structure using private financing with all risk on Bluewater, considering the constant and fallacious mantra that "the wind project will be too expensive for the people of DE." The people of DE would "pay for the project" if tax dollars were used; under the current PPA, Bluewater finances the project in full and the people of DE get a competitive fixed price over 25 years for their kwh's. We pay for the electricity we use; we do not pay to build the wind farm. The price is stable, as opposed to gas and other fossils which WILL go up (particularly if we don't start using lots and lots of clean renewables). Even under the assumption that fossil prices would go down --(which could only possibly happen if large amounts of wind and other clean renewable generation are implemented which could lower demand for fossils--hooray!!-- gee that must be one of the problems as far as the fossil companies are concerned)-- the PPA fixes a competitive, a good price NOW for electricity for 25 years. There is nowhere DE citizens will be getting a better deal on power-- for now or the long term.
Seems like most clear-thinking, publicly-interested people understand this.

1:32 PM, April 24, 2008  
Blogger Nancy Willing said...

The Delmarva propaganda machine has left many victims in its wake. Some think that they'll have an additional $30 a month on their bills immediately. Some think that the gas-fired backup will be priced at the hightest spot market costs (if I understand this right, the contract calls for a low rate for the balance of megawatts covered by BWW for the duration of the contract).

1:36 PM, April 24, 2008  

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