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Hearings set to see if wind power is the 'greenest' way  

Bluewater Wind plan supporters say reopening the debate is a delay tactic

A Senate committee is set to start hearings next month on whether Delaware can do better than the Bluewater Wind offshore wind power project.

Bluewater supporters called the hearings a delay tactic.

After a planning meeting this week, Sen. Harris McDowell III, D-Wilmington, sent out a written statement with tentative dates for the hearings, which will take place at Legislative Hall in Dover.

The first date, Feb. 7, will include a public comment session. Several environmental groups were invited to appear on that date.

For later sessions, those invited to testify include officials from Bluewater Wind, Delmarva Power, the Public Service Commission, the Public Advocate’s office, DuPont Co., on-shore wind providers, other renewable energy providers and consultants.

McDowell, the chairman of the Senate Energy and Transit Committee, said in the statement the purpose of the hearings is to get answers to the questions of “what the state can do to ensure Delaware consumers are getting the best deal possible for green energy.”

Hearing topics include “Process & Procedures,” looking at the process that led to the Bluewater contract; “Technology, Resources and Alternatives,” examining the proposed wind farm itself and Delmarva’s proposed alternatives; “Cost & Risk Analysis” and “Emerging Technology.”

McDowell said the purpose of the meetings were “informational.”

“These hearings are going to be fair, above board and impartial,” McDowell said. “We’ll be calling on all parties interested in green energy, including Bluewater Wind, to discuss their ideas.”

Pat Gearity, spokeswoman for Citizens for Clean Power, said the hearings could be the beginning of an endless round of delays for the Bluewater project.

“We think it’s very unfortunate that Senator McDowell has chosen to reopen the debate on this matter after the record was closed in December. The evidence is already in, in the form of thousands of pages of analytical documents, professional commentary and public comment,” Gearity said in reference to state consultant reports that supported the Bluewater project.

Bill Yingling, spokesman for Delmarva Power, said: “We look forward to the hearings. This is about getting the best prices for our customers.”

Dates for the hearings are tentatively Feb. 7, 13, 26, 27, and March 5. The Feb. 7 hearing is expected to occur at night, though no time has been set.

The committee’s report to the General Assembly is expected to be ready when lawmakers return in early April after the budget review break.

Meanwhile, a University of Delaware professor has filed a complaint seeking to halt Delmarva’s effort to seek land-based wind power resources.

Although Delmarva is seeking green power to comply with state regulations starting this year, Jeremy Firestone’s complaint only covers 2014 and beyond. That’s the earliest year the Bluewater project is expected to possibly be up and running.

Firestone, assistant professor of marine policy at the University of Delaware, said Delmarva should have to wait until after the Bluewater matter is settled before seeking wind power resources for that time period. Firestone said Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge is seeking the on-shore resources as a way to attack the state-mandated process that led to the Bluewater contract.

Yingling of Delmarva replied, “We have a duty to our customers, and we continue to seek the best prices for our customers, and to do otherwise would be irresponsible.”

By Aaron Nathans

The News Journal

26 January 2008

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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