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Chamber waiting for wind contract

The president of the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce said he’d like to see companies compete to provide environmentally friendly energy in Delaware.

But James Wolfe said he’d reserve judgment on the merits of Bluewater Wind’s proposed offshore wind farm until terms of the company’s proposed contract with Delmarva Power are revealed in little more than a week.

The contract would lock Delmarva into a power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind for 25 years.

“We believe the best plan for Delaware is one where all green-power providers compete to bring the lowest-cost options to the state,” Wolfe said.

Delaware businesses have been struggling with higher electricity prices since last year, when state rate caps expired, Wolfe said.

The state ordered Delmarva to negotiate with Bluewater Wind to build the wind farm as part of Delaware’s effort to secure stably priced, homegrown sources of electricity. Delmarva is also under orders to negotiate with NRG Energy and Conectiv Energy for a natural gas-fired plant that would back up the wind farm.

Critics have said the wind farm plan would include heavy up-front costs for building the turbines and installing them at sea.

But Jim Lanard, spokesman for Bluewater Wind, said wind power will end up being less expensive than traditional fossil fuels once the government begins taxing emissions.

The Public Service Commission and three other state agencies ordered the negotiating parties to come to a preliminary agreement by Sept. 14. The terms and conditions of those agreements would become public shortly thereafter.

“Bluewater Wind believes there should be a diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources for Delmarva’s and Delaware’s ratepayers,” Lanard said. “We don’t think there should be a competition among the renewable energy sources. We think there should be a collaboration and a supporting diversity portfolio for all the different renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal, and wind.”.

Bluewater Wind’s contract with Delmarva would cover residents and small businesses, not large industry.

Lanard said the negotiators are working to eliminate points of disagreement before the deadline. He said there may be peripheral matters left unresolved when the deadline arrives.

Representatives of Bluewater Wind, Delmarva Power and the Pennsylvania-based renewable energy company Community Energy were scheduled to speak to the chamber at a forum Wednesday night in Rehoboth Beach. The chamber has scheduled a board meeting there for today.

By Aaron Nathans

The News Journal

6 September 2007