Delmarva Power, making a preemptive strike against the proposed Bluewater Wind offshore wind power project, has signed a pact with a land-based wind farm for up to 100 megawatts of power.
Delmarva signed with Annapolis-based Synergics Wind Energy for the energy and renewable energy credits from wind farms in western Maryland. They are 20-year contracts, beginning in 2009. Terms of the deal aren’t public yet, so the cost isn’t known.
The power would be used by western Maryland electric customers, while boosting the overall tally of renewable power in the region. If the wind is strong, the power could supply 100,000 homes. But most days it will provide far less, as the wind isn’t as consistent as coal-fired generators.
Delmarva spokeswoman Bridget Shelton said the contracts will be made public within the week, along with contracts with one or two additional wind farm developers. They are subject to approval by the Public Service Commission.
This is the latest salvo in the debate about onshore versus offshore wind power. Delmarva, which wants to buy about 160 megawatts of onshore wind power, has criticized the proposed 300-megawatt Bluewater offshore wind power contract as too large and too expensive.
Land-based wind power is cheaper, but offshore advocates say it’s the only way to provide utility-scale renewable electricity on the built-up East Coast.
“We want these land-based contracts to be compared to the Bluewater Wind project, because they certainly are better contracts for our customers,” Shelton said.
Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said his company had “no position” on the contracts, but said they “should not interfere” with its own contract.
PSC Executive Director Bruce Burcat declined to comment, saying he hadn’t seen any filings.
The state Senate is considering a resolution already passed by the House ordering Delmarva to sign a 25-year contract with Bluewater. The legislative session ends June 30.
Although Delmarva has scrutinized the Bluewater contract, Shelton said it was not unusual for Delmarva to sign a contract for power without publicly releasing it.
Shelton said the contracts would help Delmarva comply with state requirements that 20 percent of its electricity portfolio should come from renewable sources by 2019.
Nick DiPasquale of Delaware Audubon said Delmarva is “orchestrating” the land-based wind process to “give the impression that land-based wind energy is better for Delaware, even coming in from out of state, rather than offshore wind energy right off the coast.”
He said piped-in energy can’t provide more reliability on the Delmarva Peninsula, add Delaware jobs or provide close-to-home environmental benefits.
By Aaron Nathans
4 June 2008
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