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Energy companies will reconsider secrecy of bid proposals

Three power companies now in the running for a Delmarva Power supply deal agreed Tuesday to reconsider confidentiality claims that barred the public from seeing some details in proposals they submitted to the Public Service Commission.

“It may well be that some of the decisions made with respect to confidentiality under the extreme press of these deadlines are worth a second look,” said Thomas McGonigle, an attorney who represents Bluewater Wind LLC, a company that has proposed an offshore windmill generator “farm” under a process ordered by the General Assembly.

Bluewater Wind, NRG Energy and Conectiv are competing for the deal, sought by lawmakers as a way to assure the state will have secure and stable long-term electricity supplies and prices. NRG has proposed building a new-generation plant that will fuel turbines with a high-energy mix of gases extracted from coal. Conectiv wants to build a more-conventional natural-gas fired turbine at its complex along Hay Road in east Wilmington.

“I cannot imagine a situation where we will be asked to make a decision without knowing what the end of the day price is going to be to the ratepayers,” said Philip Cherry, a Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control administrator. DNREC, the Controller General’s Office and the state’s budget agency are participating in the selection.

PSC members worked out details of the review after University of Delaware Professor Jeremy Firestone formally challenged utility black-outs, or redactions, in their applications.

Commission chairman Arnetta McRae said the agency was considering a review of the same issue before Firestone’s formal motion.

Firestone said much of the information needed to judge the applications had been blacked out, and termed the exclusions, “not lawful.”

Commission members gave the utilities a Feb. 15 deadline for delivering revised proposals for public review, with an agency response due by Feb. 22 and a public meeting to consider further action set for Feb. 27.

Public hearings are planned in all three counties in March on the proposals as well as Delmarva’s long-term power, supply and energy management plans. Agreement on a final contract is expected by June 15.

By Jeff Montgomery
The News Journal
678-4277 or jmontgomery@delawareonline.com

February 6, 2007