Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Caesar Rodney Institute and Offshore Wind

David Stevenson of the Caesar Rodney Institute has weighed in on offshore wind for the Institute's new Center for Energy Independence. The piece is critical of the proposal by governors Jack Markell of Delaware and Martin O'Malley of Maryland that the federal government be brought in as a buyer of offshore wind.

This "factual analysis" offers several unsourced assertions. Let's look at footnote number one:
Using information from the Blue Water Wind [sic] project, we know off shore wind is about 60% more expensive than standard power which averages $.0974/KW [sic]. So to switch to off shore wind as proposed, the Federal government would pay $155,000/yr for the governors’ gigawatt of electricity compared to about $97,000/yr now.
The $0.0974/KW (kilowatts) quoted could possibly be meant to refer to kilowatt hours (kWh). (Kilowatts measure generating capacity, while kilowatt hours measure output.) The assertion that "we know" offshore wind power costs 60 percent more (offered without supporting evidence) sounds like the scare tactics from the dark days when opponents tossed out the most frightening numbers they could dream up to oppose Bluewater Wind.

The Public Service Commission's consultant offered a final estimate of the average net cost of the Bluewater Wind project of $0.70 per MWh, or 0.07 cents per kWh. This projection is based on plausible (but conservative) estimates of the direction of the energy markets in the future, so the actual figure could go up or down over the 25 year life of the power purchase agreement. If the projection is applied to the most current figures of 942 kWh per household per year (the EIA's latest figure for Delaware), the net average cost over the life of the project would be 66 cents per year in 2007 dollars. Even if the figure were several dollars, it wouldn't even approach the 60 percent increase that Stevenson presents as fact.

I could critique some of Stevenson's other assertions, but I don't think the piece is nearly rigorous enough to merit a more thorough rebuttal. If the staff at CRI wants to weigh in on renewable energy, I would encourage them to do their homework.