NRG Energy and Conectiv Energy are trading accusations that the other’s proposal to back up a wind farm is impractical.
The companies are vying to build a natural gas plant to back up Bluewater Wind’s proposed offshore wind farm when the wind isn’t blowing as hard.
The two plants would provide electrical power on a long-term basis to Delmarva Power.
In a letter to the Public Service Commission last week, NRG Energy attorney Peter Furniss wrote that its competitor, Conectiv Energy, submitted a bid for a plant that would not be able to fully back up the wind farm should the wind go still. That would force Delmarva to buy costly power off the electric grid, Furniss wrote.
Furniss also criticized Conectiv for choosing a location in Sussex County that is currently undeveloped, compared with NRG’s plan to build at its current Indian River plant. New power lines would be required to distribute the power, he wrote.
In his response, Conectiv attorney I. David Rosenstein wrote that his company offers a plant that could be fired up in 10 minutes, compared with NRG’s, which he said would take five hours to start up. The NRG plant would be unavailable if needed a second time during a day, Rosenstein wrote.
Conectiv chose to build a smaller natural gas plant because that’s what Delmarva asked for, Rosenstein wrote. It would be unlikely Delmarva would need the plant to provide more than Conectiv’s proposed 195 mw of backup capacity, he wrote.
NRG’s proposed 300 mw plant relies on a new natural gas pipeline that would cross the Chesapeake Bay, and relies on the pipeline’s permits to come through, he wrote. Conectiv says it would make use of an existing gas transmission line.
Furness said NRG’s proposed plant would be turned down at night. He expressed confidence the gas pipeline would get built, and suggested Conectiv would end up relying on it, too.
In an interview, Furniss criticized Conectiv for proposing to run its plant on heating oil during the winter, which he said was different than what the state commissioned; Conectiv spokeswoman M.Q. Riding replied that natural gas tends to be used up by consumers in the winter. That should apply to NRG’s plant, too, she said.
Furniss also praised the Delmarva negotiators, but expressed concerns that others at Delmarva “may not be as enthusiastic” about wind power. Delmarva has publicly expressed concern that a contract with Bluewater would be too expensive for its customers.
“We believe it is important to voice our support for the process generally,” Furniss wrote.
By Aaron Nathans
The News Journal
8 October 2007
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