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Report may doom offshore wind power initiative

Delaware should kill a 25-year purchase proposal for offshore wind energy, according to a senator’s draft report prepared for a legislative committee reviewing the state’s energy supply.

Democrats pulled back from releasing the report Wednesday to wait for a final review by the full Senate Energy and Transit Committee, but four lawmakers agreed to discuss various details with The News Journal.

While the draft says that Bluewater Wind’s offshore energy venture in Delaware could be jump-started with public aid, the report – if approved as is – could be the death knell for a state-mandated offshore wind contract between Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power.

“Probably the report will determine what will be done” on the wind vote in the Senate, said Senate President Pro Tem Thurman Adams Jr., D-Bridgeville.

“I knew that this report would not be favorable to Bluewater,” said William Zak, a member of Citizens for Clean Power and a supporter of the wind project. “I don’t have any doubt this will wind up in court. Delmarva has fought this so tooth-and-nail that I’m sure they won’t stop until they exhaust their last chance.

Sen. Harris B. McDowell III, D-Wilmington North, wrote the draft after a series of public hearings before the Senate Energy and Transit Committee. McDowell, who is chairman of the committee, said the hearings had been fairly conducted to provide lawmakers with more information about the complex wind deal, but some critics of the process said the hearings were a sham.

“What I think we have now is a question of how broadly supported Harris McDowell is in the General Assembly,” Zak said.

Delmarva Power recently released details on a competing plan to buy land-based, wind-generated electricity that would cost roughly one-third to one-half less than the 300 megawatts that Bluewater wants Delmarva to buy under the 25-year contract.

By Jeff Montgomery

The News Journal


9 April 2008