Friday, May 27, 2011

Setbacks for Renewable Energy in Delaware and New Jersey

Yesterday the News Journal reported that NRG is slowing its timetable for the Bluewater Wind project. A meteorologic tower to gather data on wind patterns and bird migration, will not go up this year as planned. NRG cited the defunding of a federal loan guarantee program as reason for delaying the project. Governor Markell was not shy in showing his impatience with NRG on the news:
Gov. Jack Markell said it would be unwise to spend years waiting for the political climate to improve, noting the state has worked hard to smooth Bluewater's path to construction.

"The announcement puts the project's future into question," Markell said. "If they think they can't build it without the guarantee, then it makes sense to see who might."
NRG has not yanked its funding of Bluewater, which continues to work on permits and procurement.

Governor Chris Christie announced today that he was pulling New Jersey out of RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Killing RGGI has emerged as a top priority for the Tea Party. In announcing his decision, Christie said he believes that climate change is real, but that the program wasn't effective, perhaps because the governor had raided the funds to pay for general operating expenses:
But several states, including New Jersey, have raided their portion of the proceeds to fill budget gaps. Christie took $65.2 million from the state’s Global Warming Solutions Fund to balance the current budget.

As of last August, participating states had invested 63 percent of RGGI auction proceeds in programs to improve energy efficiency and accelerate the use of renewable energy technologies, according to the intiative’s website.
Christie complained that the program wasn't effective. Perhaps RGGI would be more effective if the proceeds were used for their intended purpose.

As for the cost, Christie acknowledged that it actually isn't that great a burden on ratepayers:
But when asked what the savings from backing out of RGGI would be for consumers, Christie said: "I don’t want to overplay that because we’re not talking about a huge difference."
Here in Delaware, RGGI costs the average household 38 cents a month, 0.285 percent of electricity bills. When asked about his decision by the News Journal, John Kowalko called Christie an "environmental neanderthal."

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