July 4, 2007

Wind farm competition bid denied

Four state agencies rebuffed Conectiv Energy’s request to submit an offshore wind farm proposal to compete with Bluewater Wind.

At Tuesday’s Public Service Commission meeting, Conectiv officials argued they would have submitted a proposal for a wind farm earlier if they had known that state officials were seriously thinking about commissioning one.

Instead, they proposed a natural gas plant.

But members of the commission, and other state agencies, collectively said Conectiv’s overture came too late. Bluewater Wind is already in negotiations with Delmarva Power for a long-term power purchase agreement.

The PSC, together with the Controller General, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, last month ordered negotiations to begin.

In preparations for Tuesday’s meeting, Conectiv had gone so far as to put together a team to build a competing wind farm proposal. The team included Wind Energy Systems Technology, which is working on a wind project off the coast of Texas.

After Tuesday’s meeting, however, the Conectiv team’s project is on ice, said spokeswoman M.Q. Riding.

“We’re disappointed we couldn’t propose a wind project,” Riding said. “We wanted to bring competition to this segment of the procurement process.”

Bluewater Wind officials argued against the Conectiv proposal, saying the time to make that proposal has passed.

“They’re too late,” said Thomas McGonigle, an attorney who represents Bluewater Wind. “Bluewater took the risk. Conectiv did not.”

Commissioners also rejected Conectiv’s request to cancel the order for the wind farm and order Delmarva to negotiate exclusively with Conectiv for power from its proposed natural gas plant at Hay Road in Edgemoor.

NRG and Conectiv are now competing for the right to build a natural gas plant to back up the wind farm, providing power when the wind is not blowing at its peak. NRG has an existing site in southern Delaware, near the proposed site of the wind farm, but Conectiv favors its Hay Road site.

The four agencies have said Sussex County would be the likely location for the backup, but are allowing Conectiv to make a case why a backup plant in New Castle County could provide better electrical reliability for the Delmarva Peninsula.

Also Tuesday, NRG Energy officials argued for the agencies to approve unambiguous language stating that a new natural gas plant must be located in Sussex County. But agency officials declined to do so.

Riding said Conectiv would likely submit two proposals, one for a plant at Hay Road, and one for a location in Sussex County to be determined.

By Aaron Nathans

The News Journal

4 July 2007

URL to article:  https://www.wind-watch.org/news/2007/07/04/wind-farm-competition-bid-denied/