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Wind farm deal could be reached within days

Bluewater Wind, Delmarva Power and municipal utilities are edging closer to a deal that could end a yearlong battle over building a $1.6 billion offshore wind farm.

Senate Democrats are pushing for a compromise that could be reached within a matter of days, according to those close to the talks. But they temper such optimism with the fact that Delmarva has walked away from earlier talks.

Delmarva has adamantly opposed the existing contract, developed by a state arbitrator, which would require it to buy up to 300 megawatts of electricity from Bluewater’s proposed 150-turbine wind farm off the coast of Rehoboth Beach. At that size, the wind farm could power up to 300,000 homes.

The utility says it’s unfair to make its customers pay more for so much power from an expensive new technology.

Delmarva is buying ads criticizing the contract, and instead has sought to buy power from less-expensive land-based wind farms. On Tuesday, Delmarva said it had signed a contract with a Maryland wind developer.

The legislative session ends June 30, so Senate Majority Leader Anthony DeLuca has been meeting privately with each side.

“There’s something forming,” said Patrick McCullar, president and CEO of the Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation, which is involved in the talks. He met with DeLuca on Thursday. “As of today, there’s not a deal, but we’re closer than we’ve ever been to a positive outcome here. Time will tell. And time is short.”

Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said, “Bluewater Wind is cautiously optimistic that a positive outcome can be reached in the next few days.”

Sen. Karen Peterson, D-Stanton, said DeLuca told her this week the parties were close to reaching an agreement.

By Aaron Nathans

The News Journal

6 June 2008