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Delmarva Power polling on wind costs

In an effort to gauge customers’ opinion of wind power and how much they are willing to pay for it, Delmarva Power has commissioned a telephone poll.

The move comes as Delmarva has expressed objections to a state mandate to form a long-term power purchase agreement with Bluewater Wind. Bluewater’s wind farm would be built off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, and could be the first offshore wind farm in the country.

On Thursday, Delmarva spokesman Bill Yingling confirmed his company was surveying Delaware residents on wind power. The poll includes a question about whether residents would prefer to have the choice of paying more for wind power, Yingling said..

Several utilities currently offer a “green energy” option, Yingling said.

Last week marked the state’s deadline for turning in terms and conditions of an agreement between Delmarva and Bluewater. But Delmarva’s filing was filled with areas of disagreement, including price.

Delmarva has said it prefers to buy renewable energy on the open market instead of signing a long-term agreement with one provider.

Yingling said the poll, conducted by Virginia-based Issues and Answers, was part of Delmarva’s ongoing efforts to gauge customer opinion.

Some, however, question Delmarva’s motives. Louise White, a Rehoboth Beach resident, said she received a call from the telephone pollster late last Friday afternoon.

White, who said she supports offshore wind power in Delaware, said she found the questions leading, and in some cases, confusing.

She said the questioner asked whether she would prefer wind power from an offshore wind farm in Delaware, or a land-based wind farm in Pennsylvania. White noted that the Pennsylvania option is not being considered as part of the state process.

“The way the questions were worded, they were steering toward an outcome,” White said. Delmarva is “supposed to be negotiating with Bluewater Wind. Land turbines in Pennsylvania aren’t on the table right now.”

Yingling said Delmarva does not usually release the results of its surveys, but may do so with this survey when the time is right.

“We think that it’s important to gauge customer sentiment around not just one type of renewable, but a variety of renewables,” Yingling said.

The Delmarva poll is the second survey on public attitudes about wind power in Delaware. Late last year, several University of Delaware researchers conducted a mail poll of 949 residents. They determined that about 80 percent of Delaware residents would rather pay at least $30 more per month for three years for offshore wind than build another coal or natural gas plant in Delaware.

By Aaron Nathans
The News Journal


21 September 2007