Thursday, February 28, 2008

Comment Rescue and Radio Alert

I'll be on WDEL, 1150 AM, with Allan Loudell this evening at 5:35 to talk about the cost and reliability of wind power.
Earlier today, Allan interviewed the reporter of this story about how a quick drop in output from a wind farm almost led to a rolling blackout. But the reporter, R.A. Dyer of the Star-Telegram, said that several factors, including the failure of some scheduled generators to come on line and an unanticipated uptick in demand contributed to the problem.
John Austin, who is pretty sharp with a calculator himself, offered this comment in response to my News Journal op-ed today:
What will be the SOS rate cost if there is no BWW project???
McDowell's SB-19 passed last year forces SOS rate payers to use 20% renewable energy by 2019. It is not free.
Based on the current $4/month difference in the WGES 5% and 25% wind offers, it is just a few steps to calculate projected costs at 3% inflation.
Comes out at $5.88/month on average 2014-2038 for the nonsolar costs. That is "IF" DPL finds a long term onshore contract at the same costs.
PSC number for BWW alone was $6.46/month.
Latest, bid for 1/3 of SOS power came in 15% higher. The price of electricity just keeps going up. It was reported the average Delmarva residential customer will see an increase of 1.9 percent, or $2.52 per month, on their monthly bills. How that isn't really a $109.9 - 95.8 = $14.10/3 = $4.70 increase still escapes me. I'm sure DPL will get it right on my bill.
He gets the point that energy prices are going up already, as I reported last Friday:
The average weighted price for this class was $109.90/MWh, about 15% higher than bids last year.
This of course reinforces the point in my op-ed, which was submitted before the new bid prices were announced.

News Journal Op-ed on the Cost of Wind Power

The News Journal today published my opinion piece on the cost of the wind farm proposal:
Optimistic energy projections are off
Posted Thursday, February 28, 2008

The fight over Bluewater Wind's offshore wind farm comes down to cost.
Delmarva Power claims the wind farm would cost consumers an extra $22 a month. State Sen. Harris McDowell is floating numbers ranging from $14 to $75 a month. These numbers are not based on the findings of the Public Service Commission staff, and should be dismissed as scare tactics intended to kill the proposal.
The PSC staff report projects a more plausible figure that the project would cost the average customer $6.46 a month. How is that figure calculated?
The projection that we would have to pay extra for the offshore wind farm is based on the astonishing assumption that natural gas prices will go down over the next four years, and remain below current levels for more than a decade.
This is an unlikely scenario. But gut instinct is not the only basis for questioning the assumption that energy prices will go down.
The scenarios used by the PSC staff and the independent consultant are based on energy price projections published by the Energy Information Agency, a federal agency that provides a convenient benchmark. It's convenient, perhaps, but unlikely to be accurate.
The EIA missed the mark in previous projections. In 1997, it predicted natural gas prices would remain flat or rise slightly over 10 years. Instead, natural gas prices tripled.
The market itself doesn't believe these optimistic scenarios. The New York Mercantile Exchange trades futures contracts in natural gas. The price of delivery for natural gas in February 2009 is running 15 percent higher than the current price.
In its most recent World Energy Outlook, the International Energy Agency projects overall demand, including natural gas, will increase by 55 percent by 2030. Increasing demand and limited supply can only lead to higher prices.
The Delaware General Assembly passed House Bill 6 (the Electric Utility Retail Customer Supply Act of 2006) in response to the 59 percent rate hike brought on by electric power deregulation. The PSC staff report recommended approving the power purchase agreement between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power because it meets the criteria in H.B. 6, including price stability, reduced environmental impact, and the benefits of new technology.
H.B. 6 was passed to protect us from rising energy prices. It would be ironic if the General Assembly were to kill the offshore wind power proposal based on the mistaken assumption that energy prices will somehow go down and settle into long-term equilibrium.
Approval of the Power Purchase Agreement would create jobs and make Delaware a leader in a new industry at a time when manufacturing jobs are disappearing. It would reduce greenhouse gases and toxic pollution. Most significantly, it would protect against future increases in the cost of electricity produced from fossil fuels.
If recent history and the laws of economics hold true, a wind farm will save customers money over the 25 years of the agreement.
The public understands energy prices are going up and never coming down, which is one reason why the thousands of public comments have run in favor of the wind project.
House Concurrent Resolution 38, which has 28 sponsors, would break the logjam on wind power by recommending that the controller general vote in favor of the agreement with Bluewater Wind. The General Assembly should understand wind power will help protect us from the forces driving fuel prices higher.
Tom Noyes, who writes the blog TommyWonk, has an MBA in finance from the University of Delaware.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Green Energy and Tie-Dyed T-Shirts

Some people still see renewable energy as a little kooky, which may be why Ohio's governor wants to be sure that people understand his interest in green energy is based on hard headed economics. The AP reports that Ted Strickland left his hippie garb at home when he brought up energy at the meeting of the National Governors Association:
In Ohio, facing a budget shortfall of at least $733 million by June 2009, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland has proposed a stimulus package that includes spending $250 million on alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and clean coal.
"If states like Ohio want to overcome their economic challenges, they've got to embrace advanced energy technologies and renewable sources," Strickland said Thursday. "This idea of clean, green energy is no longer a tie-dyed T-shirt kind of idea. This is mainstream economics."
When I talk with people about the economics of wind power in Delaware, I often draw a graph with two lines: the price of wind power and the price of energy from fossil fuels. Today, the price of electricity from fossil fuels is slightly lower than electricity from wind power. These two lines will cross, possibly before the proposed wind farm becomes operational in five years. Indeed, as I reported last week, the price Delmarva Power is paying for energy from conventional sources is going up.
Here's where conventional wisdom gets turned on its head. We are so used to hearing that renewable energy is more expensive that even wind power advocates almost overlooked the assumptions behind the so called green premium. The projection that the Bluewater Wind project would cost residential customers an average of $6.46 a month is based on assumptions that natural gas prices will go down, and stay down for years to come.
It doesn't take a brilliant flash of insight, a radical paradigm shift, or a tie-dyed T-shirt to understand how wind power is going to be less expensive, not more expensive, over the next thirty years.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Wind Power Project Killed in Fayette County, Pennsylvania

Delmarva Power is telling us that it can buy renewable energy cheaper from out of state. All well and good, but the company won't be buying it from Fayette County, Pennsylvania anytime soon. The Herald-Standard reports that the county zoning board last week voted against a relatively small project:
The Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board has unanimously denied a special exception request that would have allowed the construction of 18 wind-powered turbines in Georges and Springhill townships.
If it's this hard to put up 18 turbines, where will Delmarva find the energy that would be generated by 150 turbines? Wharton Township, which has its own zoning board, previously approved construction of six turbines. Now, if we could get 24 more townships to approve similar projects, we could find 150 turbines to replace Bluewater Wind's proposal. Or could we?
First, onshore wind turbines (at least those east of west Texas) tend to generate less power than offshore turbines, which is why more expensive offshore wind power is worth the capital investment. So Delmarva Power would have to find more than 150 turbines to replace the Bluewater project.
Second, Delaware isn't the only state that has adopted higher renewable energy portfolio standards. Delaware's standard is set to rise to 20 percent. This energy has to come from somewhere, and utilities around the country will be competing for this scarce resource. I for one would rather have our energy provided here in Delaware at a fixed rate rather than come from out of state, given that prices will be determined by a growing demand chasing a limited supply.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Three Years of TommyWonk

I started TommyWonk three years ago with this post about a clever conceptual art parody:
Not that anyone was paying attention then. Since then my readership has grown from negligible to modest proportions. Even so, I appreciate the time and thought you give to my little blog.
My comment from a year ago still holds true:

For me, TommyWonk is a success if I manage to offer interesting, informative, relevant, well-considered and well-written postings that draw an appreciative readership. If I can shape the political discourse in some small way, that would be wonderful. Whether you agree with me or not, I hope that you come away from my blog with a little more clarity of thought on issues that matter.
Thanks for reading, and keep coming back.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Delmarva Power Prices Going Up

While Delmarva Power and its allies in Leg Hall fight the offshore wind proposal, energy prices continue to rise. The Public Service Commission has released the results of Delmarva's recent purchase of energy to serve its Standard Service Offer (SOS) customers. (Sorry, I don't have a link, as yet.)
The results? Higher prices:
In total, Delmarva sought and acquired a total of 577.5 Megawatts (MW) of Peak Load for full-requirements SOS service. For the Residential class, Delmarva sought 36-month contracts accounting for approximately one-third of the SOS-eligible class need. The average weighted price for this class was $109.90/MWh, about 15% higher than bids last year. The remaining two-thirds of SOS supply will be supplied under contracts procured last year and in 2006. Because the energy secured for Residential customers this year only accounts for one-third of their total SOS needs, these customers will experience an incrementally smaller increase in rates. It is estimated that Residential class customers will see an increase of less than 2% on the total bill for electric service received from Delmarva for the remaining three classes (larger commercial and industrial customers), Delmarva sought 12-month contracts composing 100% of the needs.
The good news for now is that Delmarva buys much of its energy in three year contracts, so that the higher prices in this most recent purchase represents only about one third of the energy we buy. Even so, energy prices are going up, not down. In contrast, the projection that the wind farm will cost us extra depends on prices going down, not up. This is precisely the kind of price instability the wind farm will protect us from.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Bluewater Wind Rebuts Delmarva Power

We've heard recently from Delmarva Power president Gary Stockbridge. Yesterday it was Bluewater Wind president Peter Mandelstam's turn in the opinion pages of the News Journal:
Bluewater offers clean, stable energy

Delmarva Power's latest op-ed essay in The News Journal claims its continued opposition to Bluewater Wind's offshore wind park proposal is grounded in concern for its customers. History strongly suggests this opposition is based on protecting profits.
Where was this concern for customers when Delmarva Power raised rates by 59 percent following deregulation? Its own opinion poll confirms customers support the offshore wind project. But now it wants customers to pay nearly $5 million for costs incurred fighting the very proposal most of their customers support.
Delmarva Power boasts about its support for the state's renewable energy standards, but fails to mention it secured a provision in the law that allows it to pass along all of the costs to customers -- even penalties Delmarva will be forced to pay if it fails to meet the standards.
The record is clear. Delmarva Power's opposition stems from fear for its bottom line and that of parent company Pepco Holdings. Pepco Holdings is based in Washington, D.C., and is worried that power generated by Bluewater will replace power that would otherwise have been bought from another Pepco-owned company, Conectiv.
Although some people have suggested that we do not know how much ratepayers will pay for energy from the offshore wind park, this is not true. Bluewater's price is set for 25 years, down to the last penny.
The issue arises when experts try to compare this set price with the estimated cost of doing nothing -- that is, Delmarva Power's continued reliance on the volatile fossil fuel market to purchase energy. In doing this comparison, the state's independent consultant concluded customers will pay an average of only $2.69 more per month for clean, renewable and stable energy.
To put this in perspective, Delmarva Power's 59 percent increase costs customers about $54 per month -- every month. That is 20 times the increase with the offshore wind proposal. If energy prices continue to rise above what is currently projected -- an outcome we think likely -- consumers will save money with offshore wind.
Delmarva Power points to New Jersey's offshore wind solicitation as a reason to reconsider the process that led to Bluewater's selection in Delaware.
The comparison fails. First, New Jersey has offered up to $19 million of state funds toward the more than $1 billion project. In Delaware, there are no state dollars at risk for the wind project funded by Bluewater. No Delaware customers will pay a dime until the project produces electricity.
While Bluewater, like any business, would rather not publicly disclose to its competitors the terms of its bid prior to submission, the Bluewater New Jersey bid will require a long-term contract and will not be priced lower than what we have proposed in Delaware.
Indeed, Bluewater firmly believes legitimate bidders will not be able to finance an offshore wind park in New Jersey without a long-term contract.
Delmarva Power proclaims it wants to purchase renewable energy; it just doesn't want it produced in Delaware. So the choice is whether Delaware will have homegrown, pollution-free energy, or whether it will allow Delmarva Power to outsource renewable energy needs.
An in-state wind park will produce reliable electricity without harmful pollutants, while creating hundreds of jobs and providing long-term price stability that since the deregulation of electricity rates. As the demand for alternative and renewable energy sources increases, having a wind park protects Delaware from being at the mercy of other states for clean, affordable energy. We think the choice is clear.
Mandelstam makes two important points here. First, he zeroes in on the price risk we face if we do nothing to intervene in Delamarva Power's preference for relying on the energy market, which is driven by fossil fuel prices.
Second, he corrects Delmarva on the nature of the New Jersey proposal Bluewater is working on. Delmarva Power is running radio spots claiming that Bluewater is not proposing a long term power purchase agreement (a standard industry tool, by the way) in its New Jersey proposal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obama by the Numbers

How's Barack Obama doing? Let's do the math.
Apart from his winning streak, Obama is showing strength across almost all demographic categories. TPM
sums up the exit polls:

Obama made it very close among females, losing to Hillary by the slimmest of margins, 51%-49%.
He won by a sizable margin among middle-aged voters, 53%-46%.
He won by decent margins among voters with an income less than $50,000.
He won by big margins among self described moderates and conservatives.
He won overwhelmingly among people who decided in the last week or the last three days, though Hillary won narrowly among those who decided in the last day.
He won narrowly among members of union households.
His demographic strength is matched by the geographic scope of his wins, from coast to coast and in between. But the most exciting numbers for Obama are recent polling results for Virginia and Iowa.
TPM Election Central,
which compiles polling results, has the numbers:
Obama (D) 51%, McCain (R) 41%
McCain (R) 52%, Clinton (D) 41%
Obama (D) 51%, McCain (R) 45%
McCain (R) 48%, Clinton (D) 45%
If his winning streak and gains across all demographic categories don't make the sale for the nomination, these poll numbers will. We just might have a candidate who can carry the campaign to states previously thought of as out of reach for a Democratic nominee.
I went back to the Electoral College results from 2004. John Kerry won 252 of the 270 needed. Add Virginia (13) and Iowa (7), and the total climbs to 272; Obama would be elected without Ohio or Florida.
Here are some thoughts that may occur to Democratic leaders who look at these numbers.
First, it may take a while for the idea of a black man ahead of a war hero in Virginia to sink in. Take a moment.
Second, a Democratic candidate who starts the campaign ahead in Virginia is playing to win instead of not to lose. It's like starting with the ball on the 48 yard line in the other team's territory. Do that all day, and winning becomes easier.
Third, if Obama can win Virginia, maybe he can win in Colorado, Missouri, Nevada, and New Mexico. This would require McCain to play defense in previously solidly red states. It also means Democratic candidates in these states can dream of winning down the ticket.
The prospect of winning Virginia means the 50 state strategy is ready for the big show, and that talk of political transformation might not be a pipe dream after all.
Everywhere Obama goes, he draws enormous crowds, builds on his impressive organization, and improves his election results. Right now, I don't see how John McCain can match the crowds, the energy and the excitement that Obama creates on the campaign trail. With eight months to go, I expect Obama to continue to draw huge crowds to his rallies and new voters to the polls. Sure there will be bumps in the road, the media will find new, less flattering stories to write about Obama (and McCain for that matter), but the fundamental reasons for his appeal won't change drastically between now and November.
Maybe there is something to that hope stuff after all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Harris McDowell and his Self Appointed Watchdogs

Harris McDowell's opinion piece in the News Journal starts out by defending his five hearings, scheduled, he says, at the request of Senate leadership:
Some have called these hearings a "charade" or a delaying tactic. That's simply untrue; although it does leave me asking why those who want this deal so badly object so vociferously to a full, public airing of these issues before the state decides whether to take this major step.
So, after a year of hearings, analyses, reports, negotiations and thousands of public comments (ten to one in favor of wind power), Senator McDowell woke up one morning and decided we need "a full, public airing of these issues."
Fair enough; maybe he can help us understand the economic impact of the project. Or maybe not:
For instance, to date, no one has been able to offer precise numbers about what ratepayers will be paying over the next 25 years. When my colleagues hear cost estimates ranging from an additional $14 to $75 a month, it makes them understandably nervous.
What makes me nervous is the way McDowell is throwing around such spurious figures, oblivious of the fact that someone has offered precise numbers. The Public Service Commission staff, in its final report, offered a number, and it doesn't fall within the range McDowell cites.
The number has two components: the price, which is specified in the Power Purchase Agreement, and the expected cost of energy when the project goes on line, which is at best an educated guess.
The PSC staff report presents a number of $6.46, which is probably high, since it is based on the assumption that natural gas prices will go down. I have described why I don't think that's likely.
Senator McDowell continues by complaining that his critics are "haranguing our effort to inform the public," and suggests further questions for those he describes as "self-appointed watchdogs."
The problem for Harris McDowell and other opponents of offshore wind face is not that the issue hasn't had enough public discussion; no other energy debate in our lifetime has generated as much public interest. Instead, I suspect that the problem for wind power opponents, including Delmarva Power, is that the issue has had too much public discussion, and that they have lost control of that discussion.
McDowell's hearings do serve one purpose; they are setting the stage for Delmarva Power to come up with something plausible sounding in time to kill the Bluewater Wind project. The hearings are buying a little extra time for Delmarva Power to come up with an excuse that that sounds reasonable enough to convince enough legislators to kill the wind farm without looking mean or obtuse when it comes to renewable energy.
Senator McDowell is trying his hardest to obfuscate and change the subject, but he isn't going to keep this self appointed watchdog from keeping a close eye on his hearings and correcting the record when weak or fallacious arguments are offered as reasons for killing the offshore wind farm.

Monday, February 18, 2008

TommyWonk on Progressive Voices Tonight, WVUD 91.3 FM

Marian Peleski and Dana Garrett of Delaware Watch have invited me on this evening's edition of Progressive Voices, which airs tonight and every Monday night at 7:30 to 8:00 on WVUD, 91.3 FM. (You can listen online here.) The topic is of course wind power.
I'll try to shed some light on the machinations in Leg Hall and explain why wind power is not likely to be more expensive than conventional power.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Delmarva Power Truth Squad, Part 3

The public is clamoring for clean energy. Energy prices are rising. But don't worry, Delmarva Power president Gary Stockbridge is on the case. He describes how his company is looking out for our interests in today's News Journal:
Our obligation to our customers is clear, and over the past few years I have heard it repeatedly up and down the Peninsula: We need to increase our use of renewable energy and keep the rates low.
There's another place he might have heard of such an obligation: House Bill 6, which established the energy procurement process Delmarva Power is so intent on derailing. House Bill 6 set criteria for selecting a new energy generating source, including:
the cost-effectiveness of the project in producing energy price stability, reductions in environmental impact, benefits of adopting new and emerging technology, siting feasibility and terms and conditions concerning the sale of energy output from such facilities.
Delmarva Power's president want you to know he's on your side:
In 2007 we stood up in support of some of the most aggressive renewable goals in the state and across the country. Today we are standing up and fighting to keep rates low.
What Mr. Stockbridge failed to mention is that his company is standing in the way of implementing HB 6, through lobbying and a lawsuit challenging the enforcement of the law. He goes on to offer his interpretation of what
our state government is trying to do:
There is only one reason to rush into a 25-year contract for $5.6 billion that will not even start for five years, a fear that the alternatives will present a far more attractive proposal.
First, who's rushing? The PPA now on the table is the result of numerous hearings, reports and analyses, thousands of public comments over more than a year.
As for the many reasons to push for the approval of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), these are enumerated in the whereas clauses of House Concurent Resolution 38, including:
WHEREAS, the Public Service Commission staff report finds that the Power Purchase Agreement meets the criteria established by House Bill 6, including price stability, reduced environmental impact, and the use of new technology; and
WHEREAS, operation of the proposed offshore wind farm would provide jobs for Delawareans and make Delaware a leader in a new industry at a time when manufacturing jobs are disappearing; and
WHEREAS, construction of the proposed offshore wind power facility would make a significant contribution to a reduction in greenhouse gas and toxic pollution emissions; and
WHEREAS, citizens of Delaware have offered thousands of comments and letters in favor of the proposed wind power facility; and
WHEREAS, the Public Service Commission, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Energy Office and the Controller General did not act on the Power Purchase Agreement because of the lack of a consensus among the four entities; and
WHEREAS, approval of the Power Purchase Agreement would endow Delmarva Power's customers with protection against future price increases and price volatility due to the rising cost of electricity produced from fossil fuels and international political uncertainties.
Evidently the 28 sponsors of HCR 38 don't agree that there is "only one reason" for moving ahead with offshore wind power. Seemingly oblivious of these other possible reasons, Stockbridge changes the subject by discussing the state's renewable energy portfolio standards:
Since the state set these aggressive goals, only a single renewable solution has been explored: the Bluewater Wind offshore proposal.
More precisely, only in-state renewable energy source has been explored in the RFP process. But then only one company submitted a proposal for consideration in the process.
Actually, there is nothing in the law that prevents Delmarva Power from searching for other sources of alternative energy. On the contrary, the annual Integrated Resources Planning process mandated by law, and being considered as a separate docket by the Public Service Commission, gives Delmarva Power the opportunity, indeed the obligation, to consider new sources of renewable energy.
If Delmarva hasn't yet found any other sources, then now would be a great time to do so. But wait, Stockbridge writes that Delmarva is doing just that, with the small caveat that the company wants to use this as an excuse for killing the Bluewater Wind project.
I don't understand why Delmarva Power is so hell bent on killing offshore wind in Delaware. One possible reason is the company's antipathy towards long term PPAs, which restrains the company from buying power on the open market. Some may know this approach as deregulation, through which the magic of the market is supposed to keep prices low. But then, we all know how that's worked out for consumers.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Delaying Tactics on Wind Power

Jeff Montgomery of the News Journal has been asking around in Leg Hall, and concludes that we won't see action on wind power until April:
"I think some of them are waiting until Harris McDowell has finished up his hearings" in March, said House Speaker Terry R. Spence, R-Stratford.
Senate Energy & Transit Committee Chairman Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, began a series of hearings on Bluewater Wind LLC's proposed 150-turbine wind project east of Rehoboth Beach this month, with a report due in early April.
House Democrats this week called for action to bypass McDowell's review. In a letter to the legislature's Controller General, House Minority Leader Robert F. Gilligan, D-Sherwood Park, and Minority Whip Helene M. Keeley, D-Wilmington South, called for a conference of party caucus leaders from both chambers and a favorable recommendation "before the
Legislature returns to session" on March 11.
Keeley said Thursday that the meeting request was not a full caucus endorsement backed by a membership vote, although several House Democrats contacted Thursday supported the project.
I'm not surprised that nothing will happen while McDowell holds his hearings. Beyond delaying any action, wind power opponents in Leg Hall are hoping to uncover some factoid so compelling, so devastating, that renewable energy advocates will be forced to yield to their superior logic.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

TommyWonk on WDEL this Evening

Allan Loudell has invited me back on WDEL, 1150 AM at 5:24 to discuss the latest news on wind power. It has certainly been a busy week.
State Rep. Helene Keeley was just on the air with Allan, and said has heard "loud and clear" from constituents in favor of wind. She also said that the prospect of new jobs in Delaware has helped to move her in pushing for a decision on wind power.
If you miss me during rush hour, WDEL also posts podcasts of recent interviews.

House Democratic Leaders Call for a Vote

State representatives Bob Gilligan and Helene Keeley write to the controller general:

February 13, 2008

Russell T. Larson
Controller General
Office of the Controller General
Dover D580A

Dear Russ,

It has been almost two months since leaders from four state agencies tabled a proposal to bring wind power to Delaware. We, the leadership from the House Democratic Caucus, ask you to please reconvene the meetings on wind power with leadership from each of the caucuses in the General Assembly. It is time that wind power is brought to a vote.
In the final months of 2007, when our leadership group first began to discuss wind power, you felt that there were too many uncertainties to move forward. Since the tabling of the vote on December 18th, legislative leaders have had ample time to talk to their constituents and do their research. This research shows that Delaware has a once in a lifetime opportunity to lead the nation on wind power. Not only will wind turbines off our coast bring at least 500 new jobs to our state, but Bluewater Wind’s parent company, Babcock & Brown, has committed to making Delaware the regional hub for offshore wind development and maintenance. In a time when the economy is faltering, it would be irresponsible of us not to strongly consider a project that would bring jobs to our state. Our research also indicates that Delawareans overwhelmingly support windpower. Now that it is clear to everyone that wind power would be a positive asset to Delaware, a vote is needed.
This much needed vote should be made before the legislature returns to session. Once we return to Dover, wind power will likely consume much of our time, and while it is a very important issue, there are many important issues currently facing the state. We hope we can get together via conference call again, so that we can discuss a path forward for wind power. If we move quickly, we can make our decision and then the four agencies can reconvene and approve this before March 11th.
In Delaware, we stand by our motto, “It’s good to be first.” Let’s remind ourselves how good it really is to be first by moving forward with wind power. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. We look forward to working with you at our next meeting and voting in favor of a bright, green future for Delaware.


Robert F. Gilligan
House Minority Leader

Helene M. Keeley
House Minority Whip
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, Harris McDowell yesterday held the second on his hearings on reason why we shouldn't do the wind power deal. As the News Journal reports, the invited speakers at the hearing told McDowell what he wanted to hear:
Delaware could trim a huge share of its energy needs and bills with a systematic push for conservation and efficiency, potentially wiping out the need for major new electricity supplies, a Senate panel was told Wednesday.
This is what McDowell has been saying for a year. It's music to Delmarva Power's ears.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Delmarva Power Truth Squad, Part 2

The portion of Delmarva Power's website devoted to "educating" the public on renewable energy includes this whopper from Gary Stockbridge's letter to the Public Service Commission (PSC) dated January 7, 2008:
By the year 2019, no less than 20 percent of Delmarva Power’s supply of electricity for its customers will have to come from clean renewable resources. Committing to this project would preclude the company from benefiting from other lower-cost green alternatives for 25 years.
First, this of course assumes what Delmarva Power wants us to believe: that the wind farm would cost more than electricity produced from fossil fuels. This assertion, of course, is true only if the cost of natural gas goes down significantly over the next several years.
But there's another assumption in Stockbridge's letter that needs to be challenged. Is there any impediment to Delmarva Power buying more than 20 percent of its power from renewable sources? The answer is no.
I've read the legislation setting the renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS), and found nothing that establishes a ceiling on the amount of renewable energy that Delmarva can or should buy. The assertion that the Bluewater Wind project "
would preclude the company from benefiting from other lower-cost green alternatives for 25 years" simply isn't true.
In the same letter, Stockbridge writes:
Our goal is to develop an affordable portfolio of green energy supply assets that fulfills the goals of House Bill 6 and also achieves the goals of the RPS legislation, making Delaware a leading state in the use of green energy.
Delmarva Power has been fighting the implementation of HB 6 for a year, and had filed a lawsuit to prevent negotiations from going forward. That lawsuit is sitting in a drawer in a judge's office, while the company tries to get the General Assembly to kill the Bluewater Wind project.
Delmarva Power is expected to try to offer proposals for out of state onshore wind as an alternative to the wind farm agreement negotiated under the authority of HB 6.
Let's be clear about this: When the company talks about scrapping the RFP docket and using the IRP docket to seek bids for renewable energy from out of state, it is a repudiation of the process established under HB 6. Whether through a lawsuit, or through its allies in Leg Hall, Delmarva Power is determined to prevent the implementation of HB 6.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Some Evangelicals Vote Democratic

For the last quarter century, evangelicals have been defined almost entirely as a socially conservative Republican brand. An example of how ingrained this identification is in our thinking is the practice among polling firms to ask GOP voters, but not Democratic ones, if they consider themselves evangelical.
Noted (and overquoted) philospher of science, Thomas Kuhn, describes normal science as being so confident of certain facts that it no longer looks for data to confirm what everybody already knows. So it is with public opinion surveys.
But a research firm, Faith in Public Life,
decided to actually ask all voters about their religious preferences:
In the 2008 election, media organizations and pollsters are relying on an outdated script by treating evangelicals as a monolithic voting bloc. The exit polls (sponsored by the major networks, CNN, Fox, and the Associated Press) provide the data for nearly all post-election analysis. Yet, thus far, exit polls have only asked Republican primary voters whether they considered themselves “born-again or evangelical Christian.”
A new post-election poll in Missouri and Tennessee, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and the Center for American Progress Action Fund conducted by Zogby International, demonstrates the diversity of evangelical voters and the need for more thorough polling and careful analysis.
The survey found that not all evangelicals are voting Republican this year:
One in three white evangelical voters in Missouri and Tennessee participated in Democratic primaries.
Also, evangelicals aren't as concerned with the so-called hot button issues associated with the religious right:
In both states, white evangelicals who ranked jobs and economy as the most important issue area in deciding how to vote far outnumbered those who considered abortion and same-sex marriage most important.
It's remarkable what you can learn about people when you ask them what they think.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Delmarva Power Truth Squad, Part 1

In a new feature, I take a look at some of the nonsense Delmarva Power is spouting about the Bluewater Wind project. Delmarva has an entire section of its corporate website devoted to arguing that it shouldn't have to sign the lawfully negotiated Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) negotiated last year under the RFP process established by HB 6.
Here's the core of the company's argument, helpfully packaged as an effort to "educate" its customers:
First and foremost, it will cost too much. Under the current offer, this proposal could cost customers up to an additional $22 per month on their electricity bills.
$22 a month is a nice scary number. Too bad it's not consistent with the findings of the Public Service Commission staff report. Nor does the number have much to do with the final PPA now on the table.
In other words, Delmarva Power is arguing that we should reject a price that isn't reflected in the deal that was negotiated.
The PSC staff report projects that the PPA would cost the average customer $6.46 a month. But, as I have mentioned in this blog and before the Senate Energy & Transit Committee, that estimate is based on the unlikely assumption that natural gas prices will go down about 20 percent in the next four years. Put another way, we shouldn't have to do anything but wait for our bills to go down, and we should all be as happy as clams. But if natural gas prices go up, as seems much more likely, then the wind power project will save us money over the 25 year life of the PPA.
Conclusion: Delmarva's scary estimate of the cost of wind power is not related to the PSC staff findings, or to any rational guess of where future energy prices are going.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Having Fun Yet?

If you're a Democrat in Delaware, the answer should be yes.
We've suffered through tough years, like 1980 and 1994, but 2008 in Delaware looks like a good year for Democrats, a topic Beth Miller covers today in the News Journal:
"The Republicans in Delaware look like they're in a mess," said Tom Noyes, a longtime Democratic Wilmington political adviser and author of the TommyWonk blog.
But 2008 is shaping up as a fine year for Delaware Democrats who enjoy politics, he said.
"It's sort of like having a front-row seat to the Super Bowl, the Tour de France at Alpe D'Huez, and Tiger Woods winning the Masters."
Miller's article explores some of the generational dynamics of the governor's race. It is commonly thought that John Carney's support skews toward older, long-time party activists, and Jack Markell's support skews younger. With record turnout among younger voters in this year's Democratic primaries, Carney seems to be looking for ways to reach more of those younger voters.
In the meanwhile, the alarming predictions about the damage done by a primary don't seem to have the same urgency they had last year:
"I'm sure [party chair] John Daniello would prefer that we don't have a primary," Noyes said. "But now the primary looks like it will be the election. The argument that the primary would hurt the party doesn't carry as much weight anymore in my view."
Given that the next governor is almost certain to be a Democrat, I'm happy that my vote will count in the election that matters. And, yes, let's have some fun while we're at it.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

TommyWonk, LiberalGeek and Dace on WILM

I had fun with Dace and LiberalGeek on WILM this morning. As is always the case with Dace, it was a lively conversation that went quickly.
If you want to know what we discussed, Jason, who didn't have anything better to do, live blogged the show. Thanks Dace, Geek, Jason and everyone who listened in.

Friday, February 08, 2008

A Sports Metaphor

I could give you an account of last night's Senate hearing, but kavips has a more entertaining, if fanciful, version:

BREAKING: NFL Commissioners Annul Super Bowl Results Pending Further Study

In a largely unknown formality, the NFL Commissioners met today to sanction the results of Sunday’s game. Usually they meet, agree to accept the games outcome, and it can then become official.
Apparently one of the group voted no, and since the vote has to be unanimous, the identity of the champion is in limbo.
“This is outrageous.” said Commissioner Kowalko. “Almost 100 million watched it live. All of them saw with their own eyes that it was won by the Giants”.
“Not so fast”, said NFL detractor McDowell. “There are calls that may have been overlooked during the actual game which could possibly annul a touchdown and switch the game around completely, giving the unbeaten New England Patriots, their perfect record after all.”

I guess it's not over 'til it's over.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

My Comments to the Senate Energy & Transit Committee

My prepared comments presented to the Senate Energy & Transit Committee hearing tonight:

Mr. Chairman, members of the committee; I am here this evening as an environmentalist with an MBA. So let’s look at the numbers.
The PSC Staff Report projects that Bluewater Wind's offshore wind farm would cost the average customer $6.46 a month, or less if a proposed backup facility is built nearby. The question is, compared to what? What assumptions about future energy prices are used?
The argument that the offshore wind farm is too expensive is based on unrealistic assumptions that natural gas prices will go down over the next four years, or even longer, and will remain below current prices for years to come.
This chart is taken from the PSC Staff Report, October 29, 2007, Appendix C:
The PSC staff, whose work I do not wish to fault, based its analysis on energy price projections published by the Energy Information Agency (EIA) and by ICF International. The ICF projection (ICF-Ref in the chart) is slightly more conservative than the IEA projection (AEO 2007), but not by much.
The average consumer would tell you that the prospect of natural gas prices going down over the next four years, or any significant length of time, is unlikely at best. But let’s try to be more systematic in examining these assumptions.
First, the EIA has missed the mark in previous projections. In 1997, the agency predicted that natural gas prices would remain essentially flat over the next ten years. Instead, natural gas prices tripled.
Second, natural gas futures prices traded on New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) are going up, not down. The price of delivery for 10,000 million British thermal units in February, 2009 was running 14.9 percent higher than the current price as of the close of yesterday’s session.
Third, the International Energy Agency (IEA), in its most recent World Energy Outlook, projects that overall energy demand, including natural gas, will increase by 55 percent by the year 2030. Increasing demand and limited supply can only lead to higher prices.
Fourth, natural gas costs are expected to climb further as utilities find it increasingly difficult to build new coal power plants due to environmental concerns and the expected costs of carbon emission controls. The New York Times reports (February 5, 2008) that the slowdown in the construction of coal plants is increasing the demand for natural gas plants, which likely means further upward pressure on prices.
As for those who imagine that the recent news about untapped natural gas reserves in Pennsylvania will lead to lower prices, news reports refer to the high expense of extracting the gas (AP, February 4, 2008):
Geologists and energy companies have known for decades about the gas in the Marcellus Shale, but only recently have figured out a possible – though expensive – way to extract it from the thick black rock about 6,000 feet underground.
Like prospectors mining for gold, energy executives must decide whether the prize is worth the huge investment.
In other words, the reserves will be extracted — once prices increase sufficiently to justify the high cost.
The public understands that energy prices are going up and unlikely to come down, which is one reason why public comments have run about ten to one in favor of the wind project.
So, who’s being naïve here; the advocates of wind energy or the opponents? It would be ironic if the General Assembly killed the offshore wind power proposal based on the mistaken assumption that energy markets will somehow work in our favor this time.
Before closing, I have several questions for this committee:
Does this committee accept the findings and recommendations presented in the PSC Staff Report?
Are there specific findings in the report with which this committee takes exception?
Does this committee expect natural gas prices to go down significantly over the next four years?
Does this committee intend to seek new sources of alternative energy outside of Delaware in addition to, or in lieu of, the proposed offshore wind farm?
Does this committee believe that the objectives of House Bill 6 (EURCSA) can be met by buying power from outside the state of Delaware?
Or do committee members intend to close down the process established under House Bill 6?
Does this committee expect to take up legislation to repeal HB 6?
The PSC Staff Report of December 14, 2007 recommends approving the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power because it meets the criteria set forth in House Bill 6 — including price stability.
The General Assembly passed House Bill 6 in response to the sudden 59 percent rate hike brought on by electric power deregulation. And yet, the argument that the wind farm would cost too much is based on the belief that this time the magic of the market will bring about decreases in future energy prices, despite what we have learned from experience, and in defiance of all we know about economics.
The General Assembly has before it legislation, House Concurrent Resolution 38, which would provide the decisive vote to approve the Power Purchase Agreement and make offshore wind power a reality in Delaware. I urge members of the General Assembly to promptly adopt this resolution and provide us with a measure of protection against future increases in fuel prices.

Annual Energy Outlook 1997, U.S. Energy Information Agency
ICF International, "Evaluation of Generation Bids to Delmarva Power & Light," November 13, 2007
Natural Gas Wellhead Prices, U.S. Energy Information Agency
NYMEX Natural Gas Futures
Public Service Commission Staff Report, October 29, 2007
Public Service Commission Staff Report, December 14, 2007
“Utilities Turn From Coal to Gas, Raising Risk of Price Increase,” Matthew L. Wald, New York Times, February 5, 2008
“Whopping gas field teases drillers,” AP, February 4, 2008
World Energy Outlook 2007, International Energy Agency

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Wind Power Hearings Open Tomorrow

The first of five hearings on how to avoid bringing wind power to Delaware is tomorrow at 6:30 PM in the Senate chambers in Dover. Senator Harris McDowell, who chairs the Energy and Transit Committee, has called five hearings on doing something, anything, other than building a wind farm in Delaware, and while we're at it, how about scrapping the requirements of HB 6.
The attitude of McDowell and other opponents of the wind farm is: We're for renewable energy, just not here, just not now, not too fast, and certainly not too much.
Not here means not in Delaware. Not now means not anytime soon. Not too fast means that legislators should feel free to scrap the process underway for more than a year and start over. Not too much means that trying to buy smaller quantities of onshore wind power is preferable to building 450 megawatts of offshore wind in Delaware.
Members of the public are invited to speak at tomorrow's hearing. I will be there to point out the shaky assumptions behind the assertion that we can't afford wind power. On that subject, the New York Times yesterday ran a story on how resistance to building new coal power plants is leading to greater demand for higher natural gas, which leads to higher prices:
With opposition to coal plants rising across the country — including a statement by three investment banks Monday saying they are wary of financing new ones — the executives see plants fired by natural gas as the only kind that can be constructed quickly and can supply reliable power day and night.
But North American supplies of natural gas will be flat or declining in coming years, according to the Energy Information Administration. The United States already has high natural gas prices, a problem for homeowners and many industries, like chemical and fertilizer producers. Some experts fear a boom in gas demand for electricity generation will send prices even higher.
It has happened before: The price of natural gas tripled in the late 1990s and early in this decade, partly because so many companies built generators to use the fuel.
Remarkably, the argument that we can't afford wind power is based on the assumption that natural gas prices will go down over the next four years. And yet some insist on calling wind power advocates unrealistic.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Final Delaware Numbers

I'm back from the Obama party, with the final numbers for Delaware...
Wilmington: Clinton 2,801, Obama 9,577
New Castle County: Clinton 23,763, Obama 28,218
Kent County: Clinton 5,533, Obama 6,735
Sussex County: Clinton 8,654, Obama 6,594
Overall: Clinton 40,751, Obama 51,124
Democratic voter turnout; 38 percent
Republican voter turnout: 28 percent
Obama won in Wilmington, NCC and Kent County. He pulled more votes than all the GOP candidates combined.

Cautiously Optimistic, Indeed

As I noted earlier, Obama communications director Chris Lu was so bold as to say he was "cautiously optimistic" about Obama winning Delaware.
As of 9:15, with 276 of 303 districts reporting, Obama leads Clinton by 43,293 to 36,600. He's ahead in every county but Sussex.
Well done to the Obama campaign. This is not just a strong win a bellwhether state; it bodes well for results across the country.
I'm going down to the party.

Updated: Delaware Goes for Obama as of 9:03

Delaware as of 9:03...
Wilmington: Clinton 1,236, Obama 3,968 (13 of 33 reporting)
New Castle County: Clinton 18,527, Obama 20,833 (137 of 172 reporting)
Kent County: Clinton 5,298, Obama 6,501 (43 of 64 reporting)
Sussex County: Clinton 7,934, Obama 6,000 (59 of 313 reporting)
With 252 of 313 districts reporting so far, Obama is winning by more than 3 to 1 in Wilmington, and is leading in suburban NCC and in Kent. Clinton is leading in Sussex.
I think Delaware is going for Obama.
Okay, MSNBC just called Delaware for Obama.
If you want to extrapolate from little old Delaware, if Obama wins in suburban NCC, then he should do well in states like NJ and CT.

More Tea Leaves

At this point, it's more a question of what we don't know.
The networks are calling Illinois for Obama and Oklahoma for Clinton.
No calls yet on MA, CT, NJ, DE, AL, MO or TN

Reading the Tea Leaves, Updated

TPM has some interesting exit polls, including Delaware:
DE: C - 41.9, O - 55.6
If so, would Delaware represent a trend? Let's look at some other numbers:
CT: C - 45, O - 52.2 (Similar to Delaware.)
IL: C - 29.1, O - 69.6 (We knew that.)
AL: C - 37, O - 59.6 (Obama has led there.)
MA: C - 47.3, O - 49.8 (Polls have been closing there.)
MO: C - 45.1, O - 49.8 (A real battle ground state.)
TN: C - 51.6, O - 41.1 (Clinton has been ahead here all along.)
NY: C - 55.6, O - 42.2 (Not as big as Illinois.)
NJ: C - 47, O - 52.2 (Seems similar to Delaware and Connecticut.)
AR: C - 71.2, O - 25.5 (Clinton is the hometown favorite.)
Obama has narrowed the gap in polling in Delaware, New Jersey and Connecticut. If he wins all three, it would be a big story.
As for California:
CA: C - 49.6, O - 46.3
Update, 7:27 PM
What I don't know from these numbers is how the polling accounts for absentee voters. Keep some salt handy.
Update, 7:33 PM
MSNBC has some internal numbers from the Georgia exit polls, which show the expected generational effect with younger voters going for Obama and older voters for Clinton.
But the startling numbers are for white voters: Clinton won 62 to 36 among white women, but only 49 to 46 among white men.
Update, 7:43 PM
More from the MSNBC Georgia exit polls:
Obama leads among whites under 30, and is even with Clinton among whites ages 30 to 44.

Waiting for Delaware Primary Results

While we're waiting for results, I will resist the temptation to do what good pundits love to do when they don't have hard data, and tell you what it means before knowing what has happened.
For a guy whose candidate just rocked the state like never before, Obama communications director Chris Lu wouldn't offer anything more than "cautiously optimistic" in anticipating the outcome here in Delaware.
In the meanwhile, if you're looking for primary results, the Department of Elections is posting them here. I wouldn't expect much more than a few districts to report in before 9:00.

Michelle Obama's Wilmington Speech

For those who have been asking, Michelle Obama's speech in Wimington last Thursday has been posted on YouTube. It's a somewhat blurry copy taken from C-SPAN.
Even after hearing her husband on Sunday, I still think her speech is one of the best I have ever witnessed.

Monday, February 04, 2008

A Real Super Tuesday

Sports metaphors, common in politics, seem inadequate to the immensity of what's happening in the campaign for the Democratic nomination. Usually campaigns for a party's nomination resemble a bout that's decided in the second round or a game that's over by halftime. This is more like Alpe d'Huez in the last week of the Tour de France, with the rest of the peleton being dropped and two top riders fighting it out for the yellow jersey far above the tree line.
Polls are tightening, nationally, and even in states like California and New Jersey where Hillary led by double digits not long ago. (TPM Election Central is a good place to keep up to tabs on the national and statewide polling.)
Usually Super Tuesday has been relegated to mop-up operations, with the front runner consolidating an already formidable lead. In previous years, Delaware has been dumped in the categories of overlooked or foregone conclusion. Not this year. Delaware is in play, and voters feel that candidates actually care about what we have to say. I expect turnout to be much higher than previous years. As Celia Cohen points out, more people saw Barack Obama yesterday than voted for John Kerry in the Delaware primary four years ago. I would be surprised if Obama were not rewarded with a decisive win here tomorrow.
Both the Obama and Clinton campaigns are saying they expect the campaign to last through all of the primaries, and Pennsylvania may not be the afterthought category it usually occupies. As TPM reports, the Obama camp is already managing expectations in this memo from David Plouffe:
"As the `inevitable' national frontrunner, tomorrow should be the day when she sews up the nomination or builds a formidable delegate lead. But because of Obama’s growing momentum across the country, the Clinton campaign is now unlikely to reach their stated goals of wrapping up the nomination tomorrow."
I think that's right; given the Obama surge of recent weeks, he could come out of tomorrow in strong shape, even if the two candidates split the 22 states and the delegate count.
Stay tuned.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Barack Obama Rocks Wilmington

I've seen all sorts of events in Rodney Square including jazz festivals, rock concerts and political rallies. But I have never seen a crowd like the one that gathered today to see Barack Obama.
I noticed people trickling in this morning around 9 when I was leaving the early service at my downtown church.
By 11, I was back and found myself in the line for media credentials with locals like Celia Cohen and national journalists like E. J. Dionne of the Washington Post, who drove up for the event. (Dionne has just published a new book, Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right, about which I will have more to say when I've gotten my hands on a copy.)
Obama's campaign hit town like no other campaign in memory. They've been saying that they are competing in all 22 contests on Tuesday. But it may be that Wilmington's proximity to our media centers also figured into the decision to bring Obama to a rally here in little old Delaware. For instance, Richard Wolffe of Newsweek and Joe Klein of Time were on hand, perhaps prompted by the prospect of seeing a stump speech and being back home in time for dinner and the Super Bowl kickoff.
Obama was introduced by Jack Markell and John Carney, who were suitably pumped up for the occasion. (Who said the Democratic Party's divided?) Even if Carney and Markell last another decade or two in the public arena, this could be the biggest political crowd they ever address.
Even with all of the hype and anticipation, Barack Obama did not disappoint. He delivered the latest version of the stump speech he has been presenting to overflow crowds for months. He spoke of hope, not as blind optimism, but as the fundamental force that has shaped our destiny from the founding of the United States in defiance of the British Empire, as exemplified by Ceasar Rodney. He spoke of Lincoln holding the union together and of Martin Luther King giving voice to "the fierce urgency of now."
The Washington Post reports a crowd of 20,000. A somewhat more reliable estimate from a city official is 15,000. People jammed the square and filled the surrounding sidewalks, streets and intersections.
It could be that this is the high water mark for reform in mainstream politics, at least for now. It could be that the Clinton operation will win the day on Tuesday and go on to win the nomination and the presidency. If so, Obama will remain in the Senate and wait his turn, as so many party elders have advised him to do.
But there is a significant chance that Obama will come out of Tuesday's primaries tied or even ahead in the campaign for the nomination, and the conventional wisdom will have been turned on its head. Either way, the electric atmosphere of today's rally will not soon be forgotten.
After the rally, I did a few minutes live with Allan Loudell of WDEL before coming home to try to convey the immensity of the event I had just attended. For more on the event, check out Allan's blog at WDEL, Mat's live blogging at DWA, donviti's posting at DelawareLiberal and DelawareDem's write up at DailyKos.

Photo: Lore Ritscher for TommyWonk

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Kal Penn Stumps for Obama in Delaware

The Barack Obama campaign has had surrogates here in Delaware every day this week, most notably Michelle Obama, who drew overflow crowds to the Grand Opera House and Delaware State University on Thursday. Today, film actor Kal Penn was in town on behalf of the senator. Penn, known for his roles in The Namesake and Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, stopped in the corner video store in my neighborhood to discuss his reasons for supporting Obama.
He talked about a friend who had to choose between a minimum wage job at home or going to work for Halliburton for $90,000 a year in Iraq. Penn voiced his dismay that the only way for his friend to earn a good salary was for him to go to work in a war zone.
Of course the main event is tomorrow, when Obama himself will speak to a rally in Rodney Square in Wilmington. The program starts at 1:15 PM, but you may want to be there when the gates open at 11:30 AM. The campaign "strongly encourages" that those interested RSVP either online or by calling 302 573-2540.

Friday, February 01, 2008

John Carney Steps Up

Proponents of wind power have been pressing Lt. Gov. John Carney to exercise his influence to keep the Bluewater Wind project from being killed in the General Assembly. As the News Journal reports, Carney has stepped up with an announcement that Bluewater and its parent company, Babcock and Brown, plan to base their east coast operations here in Delaware—if the wind power agreement goes through:
Lt. Gov. John Carney requested the promise from Babcock and Brown, an Australia-based global energy and investment company that acquired Bluewater last year. Carney announced Thursday that the company had agreed to the pledge.
Bluewater is looking at ports, staging areas and training areas in Delaware, including at the Port of Wilmington and near Milford, Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said.
The statement from Babcock & Brown was short on specifics:
Statement of Hunter Armistead, head of Babcock & Brown’s North American energy group:
"Presuming Delaware approves the fully negotiated and pending Power Purchase Agreement with Bluewater Wind, the nation’s First State will become a world leader in the new clean energy economy as the first state to embrace offshore wind energy. Babcock & Brown has supported and invested in Bluewater Wind to establish an offshore wind energy business on the east coast, where renewable energy sources are greatly needed. We appreciate Lt. Governor Carney's leadership and initiative on this important issue and lookforward to working closely with him to make this a reality."
John Carney is putting his prestige on the line, and that’s a good thing. Wind power advocates—including Carney supporters—have been saying that John Carney has the most to lose if wind power dies here in Delaware. The pressure is on him to deliver, particularly in the Senate. Eleven Democratic members of the State Senate, including Harris McDowell, have endorsed John Carney. (Call it the Carney Caucus.) House Concurrent Resolution 38 has 21 Representatives and 7 Senators signed on as sponsors or cosponsors. If Carney’s announced supporters in the Senate vote yea, the deal gets done.
And if the deal gets done, there will be plenty of credit where credit is due, and the campaign for governor will focus on other issues. Jack Markell was the first statewide official to get behind wind power with
an op-ed he wrote in January of last year. Carney voiced his support for the wind farm back in May, just before the Public Service Commission and the other agencies directed Delmarva Power to negotiate a contract with Bluewater Wind back in May. The question for John Carney is not whether he supports wind power, but whether he can show the leadership with his own supporters to close the deal.

Michelle Obama in the Spotlight

Michelle Obama has been relatively quiet as candidate spouses go. Hillary has Bill, John Edwards has Elizabeth, but Michelle Obama is every bit as deserving of the spotlight. Before yesterday, she hadn't spoken to more than 250 people at a time. In Delaware, she spoke to overflow crowds in Wilmington and Dover. She certainly rose to the ocassion.

The News Journal summarizes her compelling speech:

She said her husband has exceeded the expectations of naysayers who believed he would never make it out of the presidential-race starting gate, then never raise enough money, then never develop the political organization, then never win the Iowa caucus.
"What we've learned this year ... is, the bar is set, you meet the bar, and then they move the bar."
It was a metaphor she returned to often, relating her and her husband's experiences
to that of everyday, working-class people who can't seem to get ahead or "reach the bar" in today's economy.

You can set the bar at any height you like. It was one of the best political speeches I have heard. She spoke of working her way from the south side of Chicago to Princeton without a trace of self-satisfaction or self-pity. Apparently she never found much time in her life to feel sorry for herself. She showed the remarkable ability to be tough minded and tender hearted at the same time. C-SPAN, which replayed the speech last night, has posted the speech on its website.