Delmarva Power is taking its case against a proposed offshore wind farm to community groups, saying the plan is too risky and would be too costly to utility customers.
Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge spoke to about 40 citizens at the public library in Bear on Monday night.
In his address, Stockbridge said Delmarva customers can’t afford the cost of a long-term offshore wind power contract. A recent Public Service Commission staff report shows that the proposed 150-turbine wind farm 11.7 miles off Rehoboth Beach could add a significant premium to customers’ monthly bills, he said.
But in interviews, several people in the audience said they saw the wind farm as an investment in the long-term health of the state’s residents.
“Delaware has significant problems with pollution. We’ve got one of the highest cancer rates in the country. That’s a cost that somebody should be trying to figure into the overall equation,” said Dave Bailey of Bear.
Several also said it might be more expensive to try to buy renewable electricity on the open market, and continue to make extensive use of fossil fuels.
“I think that if they go with the wind farm, I think you’re going to see costs drop,” said Chris Cicora of Bear.
Stockbridge noted that Delmarva will be required to buy 20 percent renewable electricity by 2019. One way to do that is to buy credits from green power providers throughout the region.
Delmarva would be able to buy renewable energy credits at a much lower cost than buying power from a Delaware offshore wind plant, Stockbridge said. Even paying a penalty to the state for failing to buy those credits would cost about as much as buying from the proposed offshore wind farm, he said.
Stockbridge said he was concerned Delmarva customers would be stuck with an expensive contract for offshore wind power, while customers with competing companies wouldn’t have to pay those costs.
He suggested green power providers compete to supply Delmarva, rather than having a 25-year contract forced on his customers. He urged people to contact the government and make their feelings known.
“To not respond, in my mind, leaves open that the decision may not reflect what your interests are,” Stockbridge said.
Bluewater makes its case
Representatives of Bluewater Wind, who have long conducted meetings with community groups, also attended the event. They made their case that their plans would stabilize electricity costs in a way no other option could.
The wind farm would be an emissions-free addition to the state’s electricity portfolio, they said.
Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said there will be a tremendous demand in area states to buy renewable energy credits, but not nearly enough utility-size renewable energy plants to supply those credits. There’s nowhere else to put such a project in Delaware, he said.
Stockbridge repeated a common Delmarva argument: that the company could buy onshore power from Pennsylvania at a much lower cost.
But when an audience member asked Stockbridge whether Pennsylvania would be able to supply enough onshore wind power to fulfill Delmarva’s state requirement, Stockbridge said he didn’t know. Delmarva hasn’t posed the question to Pennsylvania onshore wind energy providers, Stockbridge said.
In an interview, Stockbridge said Delmarva officials are meeting with community groups “every couple of days.” They met with a group in Seaford on Sunday, he said, and outreach efforts on the wind farm are limited to community meetings like the one on Monday.
“A lot of people want to hear what we have to say,” he said.
By Aaron Nathans
6 November 2007
|Wind Watch relies entirely
on User Funding