Bluewater Wind and Delmarva Power continued to chisel away at a wind farm compromise Tuesday.
No deal was announced, but even Delmarva officials sounded optimistic a deal could be done, despite the company’s long-expressed strong reservations about a state-arbitrated wind power contract.
“We’re working with Tony,” said Delmarva President Gary Stockbridge, referring to Senate Majority Leader Anthony J. DeLuca. “At best, we’re encouraged.”
Bluewater wants to put up a wind farm 11.7 miles off the coast of Rehoboth Beach, with Delmarva signing a long-term agreement to buy the wind power. State officials have spent months discussing whether they should order Delmarva to sign the contract, and with time ticking down in the legislative session, DeLuca has held private negotiating sessions to press for a deal.
The end of the session is June 30, and lawmakers are waiting on whether to act on a resolution that would order Delmarva to sign the current contract, pending the outcome of negotiations. The House has passed the resolution, but the Senate has not taken it up.
A half-page Delmarva ad in the Sunday News Journal, which criticized the current Bluewater contract as too expensive, raised eyebrows, coming as the parties drew close to an agreement. On Tuesday, Stockbridge said the ad was supposed to have been pulled prior to publication.
“We decided to temper the advertisement, in good faith, in light of what we’re working on,” Stockbridge said. “We’re trying our best to work through this.”
Stockbridge spent much of the afternoon with other Delmarva principals at a Public Service Commission meeting. Tuesday’s PSC meeting dealt with the increasing price of natural gas. Bluewater was not on the agenda.
“Negotiations are continuing, we’re making progress, and there’s still some outstanding issues that we’ll work through,” Bluewater spokesman Jim Lanard said Tuesday. He said he still felt good about striking a deal.
John Hughes, secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, said that increasing fossil fuel prices were a signal of how important it would be to sign a wind contract.
“Anybody who has been watching energy prices go crazy for the last few months has had a feeling of doom and foreboding, a total lack of control over what’s going on,” Hughes said. “Providing for ourselves in a world that is increasingly unstable and hostile, it seems to me an absolute no-brainer.”
He said he didn’t mind scaling back the size of the facility.
“Once it proves its utility, it will be enlarged,” Hughes said.
By Aaron Nathans
18 June 2008
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